How does perception grow in response to memories and re-imaginings of lost relationship? When a human extremity is lost, the brain branches out, repurposing unused areas and resulting in the experience of phantom limbs.1 Branches of the mind that grow in response to the intangible can cause pain that can be relieved through optical illusion.2 If using a mirror to create the illusion of lost physical limbs can alleviate phantom pain, can sensations of broken connection with people and place be addressed through imagery? If imagination influences memory, how might imagery that acts as an illusion of what was lost also function as a map for new, vital forms of connectivity? I consider this possibility through drawing and printmaking, letterpress, and the structure of the book. Formal parallels between the printed book and the body, plants, trees, architecture, and strata provide a means of exploring loss associated with environmental change. The book’s absence of sound, the stillness of its imagery and the experience of solitude involved in reading artists’ books provide tools for exploring perceptions of the intangible or silent.
I am interested in what contrasting readings of landscape reveal about interpersonal relationship. Layered travel ways, boundary markers, building fragments, signage, and graffiti reveal the possibility of unrealized potential, forgotten skill, dormant or denied knowledge, and sometimes, lost relationship between people and place. Aesthetic characteristics of land stewardship negotiations provide insight into mutable, multigenerational experiences of loss, absence, and denial to which I respond in my artwork. Leaning or precarious figures, disrupted and obscured patterns of continuity, partial symmetry, buried forms and colors, pentimento, and layered, time-based imagery serve as tools for exploring rifts, mergings, and overlap between denial, loss, dormancy, death, transformation, and growth.
Traces such as mineral deposits and burn scars; thorny plants that grow thick, tangled, and volatile; fine dust and sticky pollen represent proof of previous bodies and structures yet are perceived more as substances, textures, sensations, or imprints than as objects. Like language that changes swiftly and discreetly amidst ruins of its previous forms, these physical remains store masses of information while existing in a constant state of transformation. Time and shifting context influence their legibility. Emulating features in the landscape through drawing, print- based media, and hand technologies provides elements and metaphor for considering how unseen social patterns gradually become ingrained in a person’s sensory memory. Rendering familiar yet disparate points of personal and philosophical lineage in tangible form creates opportunities to ponder their obscure interstices. Materials derived from living things—such as paper, charcoal, plastic, oil, wax, and pigment— function like nerve tissue that corresponds to a sense of lost place and prompt formal decisions.
1 Ramachandran, V S, and Sandra Blakeslee. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind. New York: William Morrow, 1998. Print.
2 “Where Am I?.” Show #204. Radio Lab. Friday, May 05, 2006. Web.