My practice is best understood as drawing, in the expanded field.
I’m talking about drawing not necessarily based on the particulars of the instrument, but in how the formal properties of drawing actions come to be applied and observed within artmaking.
My work is always an attempt to render a drawing in three dimensions, or four, including time, and therefore many of the same sensibilities persist.
'The expanded field' is a term I am co-opting from Rosalind Krauss in her 1979 essay, Sculpture in the Expanded Field.
Krauss placed understood spheres in opposition to their negatives (i.e.: landscape/not-landscape, architecture/not-architecture)
as a way of pulling apart binaries and opening up a space for new definitions and overlap.
In a similar way, I think that the expanded field as it pertains to drawing can be explored by considering the properties such as line, tonality, weight, composition, and the hand.
And out of these properties you can think about binary relationships here, too, such as positive and negative space, light and dark, suspension and grounding, order and disorder, and self versus other.
A drawing can be an outline, a reduction, a ruthless cutting of the fat. It can be a loose gesture, an approximation of essence with shape-shifting capabilities. Or it can be a fleshing-out: a development, a gradual gradation that builds up and solidifies.
Drawing is immediate and bare-bones; in demanding very little by way of materials, cost, and space, it demands a lot directly from you. In writing and in drawing- which I think are closely related- the raw material is you. You are the stuff that is siphoned out onto the page and into the light for anyone to see.
But for all that it drains out of you, drawing gives back twice as much. In the act of drawing, you will find built in tools for understanding and organizing your psyche.
A composition can be a map or a list or a therapy session. Or a collection of objects, perhaps things that once existed, but don’t anymore.
Positive and negative space are technical elements on the page, but they are also elements we can see everywhere we look- spaces occupied and left behind
The negative space of a person or an ice cream cone, for example, is sometimes big enough and negative enough to equal its previous positive, so the whole experience equates to a flatline.
In addition to outlining and defining form, drawing is the language of tonality, light and shadow, nuance, and gradient. There are highlights and undertones and shades of gray,
If you strike the right balance, heavy things become light, light becomes matter, or matter doesn’t matter anymore.
My drawings often become armatures upon which I can build the same ideas, but differently. It’s in the act of translating between mediums that I can find out what is essential and particular to the subject matter, and how to best support its development.
I am very uncomfortable with the notion of storytelling, in the traditional sense of a narrative. Its another reason I consciously frame my work within the context of drawing because time-based work comes with its own set of expectations and prescribed ways of seeing.
Of course, drawing can and often does tell a story. But a drawing lays it all out there from the beginning, and lets you follow the plot points as you find them. It doesn’t string you along and set you up and build momentum and then do the big reveal and stare at your face for a reaction. With video and film, we usually go in with the assumption of a linear progression followed by some sort of resolution, and the stakes are different from the very beginning.
One of my favorite authors, Alice Munro, described her writing by saying,
“[its] not like a road to follow…it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.”
I would rather build you a house than tell you a story.
The spaces that I depict often literally look like expanded fields- vast horizons set against wide skies where a figure appears diminutive or lost within an expansive environment.
These could be imaginary, idealized lands- theoretical places that exist to make you feel better, or explain confusion,
Or places that don’t exist yet, but might someday.
Lately I have been thinking not only about how to represent psychological landscapes, but also what the records of our human actions might look like upon those landscapes.
We are programmed toward forward motion and upward mobility: progress, results, ascension, gains.
This is a way of living in the world that requires complex structures for building new levels, more structures for scaling them, and even more for measuring and tracking the distances.
Success can mean reaching a particular height. A summit to stand on.
Which inevitably becomes the next jumping-off point.
But then what? The shape of these structures is paradoxical. The downslide cancels out the upswing. You’re back where you started and sometimes worse for the wear.
Or, you’re better off, but then what? Does the striving ever go away? Is contentment a level to be reached? Sometimes I’m just exhausted thinking about the effort.
There is a part of me that gets tired, that tends towards hopelessness, or helplessness. A feeling of an impending ending, another shoe about to drop, a looming.
The continual struggle between knowing how something could end, or how it definitely ends, and deciding to begin it, anyway.
What helps me to make that decision, again, is not trying to tell the story. Not striving towards a narrative arc of my own design. Not standing outside of the here and now, looking for the next plot vehicle. I try instead to stay alert in this moment, to the millions of stories currently unfolding, into shapes that I can’t and don’t need to predict.
THANK YOU TO:
My excellent committee: Rob Duarte, Judy Rushin, Carolyn Henne, and Mark Messersmith.
John Mann, Wayne Vonada, Bill Rice, Pat Ward Williams, Ryler Calabrese, Sophia Marin, Ashton Bird, and my family for all of their support.
I am honored to be graduating with the rest of the class of 2017, and grateful for all the relationships I've formed over the last three years.