EARLY AUGUST 2020
The author of a 2014 paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience* cites research suggesting that abstract art frees the brain from the dominance of a normal experience of reality, allowing access to otherwise hidden emotional or cognitive states through the creation of “psychological distance.”
Psychological distance is a measure of how far away things seem both spatially and temporally. Experiencing psychological distance allows us to shift our cognitive state from concrete details toward abstract ideas and perceptual expansion.
These ideas have resonance for me. In my practice I work in a state of abstracted thinking attempting to produce a visual experience that transcends the visual, evokes a sense of the physical energy of the universe and allows access to emotional or cognitive states beyond the experience of normal reality.
*Vered Aviv, “What Does The Brain Tell Us About Abstract Art”, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health
For me art practice is the archeology of consciousness. I try not to have preconceptions about the artifacts I’m after. How could I know what they will be?
I like to keep my understanding of what I’m doing very liquid. The less I understand about it the happier I am with what I produce.
I have become increasingly more interested in weaving as many strands of my thinking and experience into my work as possible. Art and art making are mysterious, both for the artist and the viewer. I aspire to experience and create an opening into these mysteries through my drawings.
Craft is the mastery of techniques and materials; art is the investment of spirit in whatever materials are used. (Mildred Constantine, Former curator, MoMA)
The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers. (James Baldwin)
I have nothing to say and I’m saying it. (John Cage)
In my years as an artist I have been engaged in an ongoing process of resolution and refinement. Both operate in the motivation behind and manifestation of my work. I take in information, process it, try to make sense of it. I strive to maintain a coherent understanding of my experience and the activity around me. I take this struggle into the studio of course, and, in the privacy and quiet of my space, enabled by a long-term disciplined practice, I am able to take the time to go deeper, to be more thoughtful, to let my process organize and translate the things I think about, the questions I have, the art, ideas, philosophy, religion, science and literature that I have studied and considered, all meld together and find roots to deeper understanding or branches to higher understanding.
(Notes on the title of this body of work)
Quantum Entanglement is a concept first considered by Albert Einstein and his cohort about a mysterious correlation between separated particles and their continued connection at any distance. Contemporary physicists are finding ways to test and substantiate this concept, which suggest new understanding of space/time dynamics. I intuitively extrapolate from these scientific findings of extreme sub-atomic interconnectedness to other kinds of interconnectedness, most interesting to me, time, space and consciousness. While these ideas are at the edge of my intellectual understanding, they are firmly rooted seedlings in my imagination.
My drawings are generated in the interplay of extreme inward looking and extreme outward looking, metaphysics and physics, contemplation and cosmology. The energy of that interplay is what drives my practice.
For many years I painted with oil and gold leaf, then oil and metallic pigments on canvas and wood, turning finally to oil on aluminum panels to experiment with the effects of reflected light. Two years ago I stopped showing my work. I withdrew into my studio and tried to clear my head. I reversed my efforts in a turn to colored pencil on black paper. Rather than reflecting, the paper absorbs the light. Through a challenging gradual building up of lines with the colored pencils I am able to coax a subtle, glowing luminosity from the dark surface and to continue, in a new way, exploring the effects of light. My process has the goal, both as an experience and an expression, of deep focus, with simplicity, clarity and scope. I aspire to a simplicity as complex as possible, a clarity as obscure as possible and a scope equally inward and outward.
Over my thirty years as an artist I have followed an inclination leading me from intellectual ideas to intuitive visual abstraction and allowed this shift to permeate my life and my work. I have established, in the many threads of my practice, the habit of entering my studio in a state as open as possible. In this context I maintain a high technical standard, making many pragmatic decisions about my materials. But in the work itself I am trusting the lead of uncertainty, which I believe is the way forward in both science and art.