Monday, September 25, 2006
I was raised in a mixture of culture and language that was at once both stimulating and discomforting, making me feel that wherever I was, I did not belong. I handled this by losing myself in the art that filled my home and by learning to anticipate the behavior of the people around me so that I could prepare myself for whatever was ahead. I became a diligent observer of people. By the time I went to college my curiosity about what humans need to cope with the joys and challenges of life was insatiable. I studied psychology and eventually made my way into a career as a behavioral scientist. In my mid-twenties, I began to explore the role that art had in my personal process of making sense of the world. Art is the space in which I explore the experience of being human, not as a scientist, but as a philosopher.
The language with which I make these explorations is that of abstractions. As intense and intimate as individual human experiences can be, I seek to view them from the outside rather than from within, thereby sharing with the viewer a more global perspective on the themes. Inspired by my experience watching the creation of Tjukurpa (Australian aborigine) sand paintings in a museum in Paris in the late 1970âs, I transform my drawings from paper to glass by painstakingly laying down glass powder, layer by layer, until my point of reference, the drawing itself, is obliterated. These powder drawings are then fired in a kiln. When the firing is complete and the glass has cooled, the image they create is revealed. Human figures have their place in this work, not as representations of individuals, nor as images of beauty, but as portrayals of emotions.
The oil paintings of Sean Scully are a recent inspiration. His technique of layering colors on the canvas leaves the viewer with brief glimpses of what lies beneath the surface. In art as in life, layering processes, though at first seeming to conceal, actually reveal what supports the entire work. The last few years of my life have been covered with and surrounded by loss: anticipating it, helping others through it, living it. Peering beneath the surface, I have seen the strengths that support us through the trials that weigh us down.
The experience of these losses has revealed another dimension of my art: the processes I use enable me to preserve the impermanent. Charcoal figure drawings on paper will quickly yellow and disintegrate; but even a fragile drawing can endure the centuries without fading when it is recreated in a medium often thought of as fragile. The glass lends an unparalleled permanence to the art. It is my hope that the art endures with the resilience of the human spirit it celebrates.