There are things that don’t exist in the world— is it realism or abstraction to make a recognizable drawing of a fantasy object or person? Or to draw something that isn’t something? Is a line representational, or abstract? What about writing? Is it yet more abstract as poetry? If you repeat a single word, how long will it retain its meaning?
Drawing ability can be dismissed as irrelevant, a parlor trick. But as I revived myself as an artist over the past several years, it has led to my current work—both drawing from life as a daily practice, as well as taking different approaches to abstraction-quick simple line studies, with and without words, more complex works on specific themes.
I work with paper, using pastel or pencil, because of the tactility and immediacy of this substrate. I use it for its impermanence, and because it keeps me from being too precious and attached. Subjects are stripped to the basics—a landscape as blocks of texture, a forest as lines on a page, substituting the written word for the drawn line. I draw the world from the bones out.
My current work reconciles these paths—my ability as a draftsman, my exploration of the world through abstraction, and my writing. I am combining these threads of representation and abstraction, as well as my identity as a writer and poet with works on the theme of hidden women; a public art project to engage older women; a memoir and drawings about late life disruptions; an exploration of the concept of “here” and where I am in relation to it. The drawings beg participation; they are still life performance art. Using stationary frames, I create an illusion of movement, triggered by a word, or a shape, or the tearing and rearranging of the paper itself. The viewer cannot escape taking part, imposing their own interpretation, or decoding the message from their own inner dialogue. These themes converge: the stripped-down wisdom of the crone, the essentiality of the abstract, the hidden and the silenced in our society.