“FOLLOWING THE THREAD”
Artists are often asked how they know when a work is finished. The same question can be applied to a long-term endeavor in which a body of work develops over time such as my six-year plus project “THE THREADS PROJECT“. In this project I attempted to bridge my interest in fine art and textiles. This also adressed what I felt was then the disparity in value given to works created using textiles, thread, and materials related to them.
Nearing the latter part of this project I began to do drawings that I could see evolved from the theme of “stones”that I used in textile pieces, works on paper, drawings, and paintings.
BLACK DRAWING I
These relate in particular to “The Black Drawings ” which are pastel drawings that derived directly from the theme of “stones” in the Threads pieces. The imagery was removed from the context used in the Threads pieces and taken to another level of meaning, as I described in my statement for The Drawing Center\’s Viewing Program :
THE BLACK DRAWINGS
THE BLACK DRAWINGS continue the theme begun in 2001 in an extensive body of work, THE THREADS PROJECT. In this project I wanted to combine my interest and experience with textiles and surface design with my fine art practice. I combined textile elements with drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, mixed-media works on paper, books, and digital drawing.
RIVER, STONES 2003-2004 (see detail below) is a significant textile work from this project which used acrylic and thread as drawing elements. The stone motif was black cotton. This stone motif appeared also in drawings and paintings in the project and has continued. In the 2007 BLACK DRAWINGS the shape of the stone has been removed from the original context and found new permutations. These black images recall not only the solidity of the earth but also summon human imagery, both seen and unseen. These are images of change and transformation, whether within the physical realm or beyond.
Over time it has become important to me as an artist to trace the “history” of ideas and works. Even though my work involves many media and techniques, there is an underlying aesthetic that marks the work as my own. When the long-term “Threads Project” began to wind down after more than six years, I found it interesting to see what direction the work would take and in what media. At first glance these new paintings seem very different from those earlier works, but on second look, there are strong relationships between the textile-oriented works and the new acrylic on canvas paintings.
In 2008 I began a new series of paintings. These became intensely-colored works using fluid acrylics on canvas. The first pieces were small, rather like the experimental “Lab Pieces done early in The Threads Project. I suppose they could be called studies but they are completed works which begin the exploration on a smaller scale.
“Small Dreaming of India” 2008 10 x 10 inches
I began by pouring the fluid acrylic onto the canvas with thick drops that were “melted” with sprays of water. These and other thick drops of pigment were allowed to dry before proceeding with the complex process of layering of marks began.
The obsessive layers of small marks relate strongly to the textile pieces in which stitches are built in much the same complex process to create the image.
detail from “River, Stones” 2003-2004 Tulle, cotton, acrylic, thread on silk mounted to cotton 35 x 68″
“River, Stones” 2003-2004 Tulle, cotton, acrylic, thread on silk mounted to cotton 35 x 68″
“Dreaming of India” 2008 One of three in the triptych of the same name, acrylic on canvas, each 36 x 24 inches
The triptych, seen in a recent exhibition, “Colors of the Universe” at Mishin Fine Arts , San Francisco. (The exhibition also featured a selection of paintings from THE THREADS PROJECT.)
The title of the triptych, “Dreaming of India” reflect the gorgeous and intense colors seen on my first trip to India taken just as the series of new paintings were under way.
An important idea about relating the textile works to the paintings, drawings, and works on paper is that they respond to a basic question that was a foundation of my search in “The Threads Project”, “How do the material and process used affect the meaning of a work? One could also ask “How do the material and process affect the value, the perceived value of a work?”
So these questions are interesting to consider when looking at the evolution of ideas and the means used to achieve them. Would these paintings be perceived differently if they had been created using a similar kind of imagery but executed in fabric and thread? Would there be a different aesthetic response? Are the differences, if any, considered positive or negative? Whatever the answers are it is clear that the unifying element of the hand and mind of the artist, the intention, form a unique and cohesive body of work over time.