A Measure of Life, 2021

On one of my first walks around the neighborhood within the first couple of weeks that I was living in North Adams, MA, I took this picture. I was looking up the trunk of a fruit tree which had not yet blossomed. I printed the photograph and tacked it to my studio wall where I hang images that are interesting to me. The silhouetted forms outlined in the picture were bold and stark and invited understanding. I waited for months before I even approached trying to elevate the blatant linearity and the exquisite balance elicited within the natural forms to a piece of art.

One day, I rolled out a huge piece of paper onto a wall in the studio. I left it blank for weeks. And then one day, I took a medium width marker and just started sweeping it across the page in the rhythm of the predominant curve in the photo and I kept going until I had completed the drawing of what was in the picture. The image did not fit the size of the paper so I had to imagine how to complete the border that remained.

I used the outline of the template I had made from the drawing of the dead branch to fill the width of the outside margin beyond the large drawing. When I realized that was not enough to satisfy me, I stopped for working on the piece for awhile.

One Sunday afternoon, I was lying on my floor listening to music beneath the spider plant hanging from the trim of the window nearby. When I looked up, I could see the answer for how I could would complete the emptiness of the margins. I would draw baby spider plants growing off the unfinished sections of the main tree drawing. (Details One and Two below.)

The bottom section of the unfinished part of the tree drawing still begged for some other imagery.

The first ever outdoor show called Groundwork at the Clark Art Institute was open and I finally went to see it. On the hike around the exhibit near the trails that extend beyond the museum, I took the next picture.

This photo became fodder for how I would draw the bottom section of the tree drawing. (Detail Three.)

All the visual information I had collected from my new living environment had contributed to a major drawing, the one shown below.

A Measure of Life, 2021, 60 in h x 88.75 in w, ink and marker on rag paper, titled and signed on verso
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail One
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail Two
A Measure of Life, 2021, Detail Three

Virtual Drawing, 2021

Carole Kim and I met in 2011 at the premiere of Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers at the RedCat Theater in Los Angeles, CA. She participated in the performance by contributing to the video presentation on the huge screens behind the stage where the musicians played.

Her work has always attracted me because she deals in the interaction of layers. In my own drawings, I think in terms of layers and outgrowths. In static drawing, in which I participate, I cannot create, motion and change and depth except in the act of drawing that becomes frozen and, in essence, unchangeable. Only in the viewing does the potential for an image’s morphing in the mind’s eye exist.

This video realizes a dream that I have had about how my drawings can be. Without Carole, I would never have been able to achieve that dream.

Corners Series, 2008

The concept of these drawings germinates once again in minimalism, the non-objective, and self-referentiality.

Self-referentiality was and is, for me, a mainstay in an artist’s orientation in approaching any work at all. Configuring it is a means to appreciate the process as it goes forth and increase the artist’s mindfulness of the direction of the process.

Each drawing is colored pencil on black gouache. Each measures 30 inches in height by 44 inches in width.

Corners, blue, gray, brown
Corners gray, purple, orange, green
Corners green, purple, brown
Corners slate blue and gray

Coming Alive Again, 2004

These six drawings were a valiant effort to open up the thrill of creation. The wood template was still in use but beautifully, as if really alive and flexible. They are all mixed media on paper, sixty inches tall and are in two parts which make the width forty-five inches. Visually, they have a connection to the symmetry of the body, in the same way at the last of the series Traveling With Angels did and the entire series of Unknowing Innocence demonstrated.

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Installation, 1981

This installation image showing velvet going horizontally and lanyard vertically occurred at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, MA, in a Faculty Show.

This is also the only time it has been created and was a combination of the materials I had been working with since I went to CalArts and later used in my exhibits at Claire S. Copley Gallery and San Jose State University in the mid-seventies.

The velvet is far more expressively handled because it is soft and pliable and represents, in essence, my femininity.

The dimensions of the BCC installation are seventy inches high by sixty-six inches width and probably six inches at its deepest point, where the velvet was bent out into space in a curve shape.

Pushpins hold the elements to the wall.

And it is based on the principles of the lanyard piece originally created in the corner of Gallery A-102 at CalArts, whereby the vertical length plus the molding equals my height in inches and the horizontal length is equals sixty-six inches, the width of my arm span.

Installation, lanyard and pushpins, each side 70″ h by 66″ w, 1970

Beginning Painting, 2007

There is never enough “beginning.” I was desperately seeking a means to dissolve the edges of the geometric templates at this time.

As with any language, the characters are difficult to re-work, re-make into new means of communicating.

Each part is sixteen inches square. The paintings are done with acrylic with some grease pencil enhancement.

Untitled, Long, 2006

I just discovered these drawings the other day when I was searching for something else. They are yet another statement rattling the template of the arc into grid formats.

They are each 50 inches high by 21 inches width. All mixed media.

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Black & White

Healing Quilt Series 1-9, 2006

This series of drawings is one of the best explanations of my process coming out of using arc templates to create shapes, characters, and language. I did these after I did the three large Healing Series paintings.

They are actually drawings for nine paintings. Each small square was intended to be 10 inches by 10 inches. The text on the left of the first one comes from The Communion of Spirts, a catalog on African-American quilters by Roland L. Freedman, 1996.

I love these drawings. They are a complete statement.

They are each 22 inches square, colored pencil, ink and acrylic on rag paper.

Twigs, 2020

These small drawings came out of seeing a tiny pile of twigs on my drawing table. The twigs had broken off apple tree branches with which I was making a large sculpture. I made the little pile because I knew that there was something interesting there.

In order to find the vision I imagined I would have, I photographed the pile. I enlarged the picture on the computer and made it black and white.

I traced individual black and white images on light blue paper and made each a different color, intending to span a legitimate “spectrum.”

I couldn’t have done this series without imaginary and sometimes actual conversations with Allan McCollum.

Transformation from the Root, #1-5, 2020

 

These pieces are all on canvas. They each measure sixty inches in height by twenty-two inches in width.

They are made with acrylic, colored pencil and marker. The first layer is acrylic and forms the background. The second layer traces the shapes left by the dripping paint with permanent silver marking pen. The last layer uses a stencil made from a drawing I made of a tree a long time ago. The shapes left by tracing the stencil are colored in with colored pencil.

The title of the series comes from a statement made by Gene Youngblood in a talk on the internet celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of his landmark book, Expanded Cinema. In the talk, he and the moderator were in an exchange regarding how the global society can change using technology as one of its means.

My affection for trees stems from a lifelong interest in how they create intimate spaces in which to linger and how the shadows of the branches are embracing and graceful and evanescent.

Trees are integral to the earth’s environment. The more that trees are brought into human consciousness, the more concern we have for them. Trees have their own forms of growth and communication. They demonstrate when they are hurt and when they are thriving. We cannot take them for granted.