Inscribed Series Statement

This series in an abstraction of language and relative impermanence of meaning.  It expresses connections between constructed communication, natural processes, and time.

A language is a living idea, adapting with age to its cultural environment. It breathes in the present, while carrying with it a history and ancestry that links it to a sense of relative permanence. This is especially true of the written word, which is frozen in the time and context that it was written, and reinterpretable by present and future readers.

These paintings contain statements that are personally relevant in the moment they are written, but that can also have lasting and adaptive meaning to others. The words float somewhere between a quote and poetry, and hopefully contain some wisdom.

The paintings are conceptual abstractions. The statements are abstracted by removing the characters from the letters, while keeping the structure of the words and language.  The syllables and their combined meaning are no longer accessible through the symbols, but remain significant because they generated the forms. By removing the characters the text can be experienced formally, while holding to the concept that created it.  What remains is an essence of meaning that is acknowledged, but now understood through the language of abstract painting.

The abstraction also reduces the efficiency of how the statement was written. The grid-like structure associated with writing is often broken, and mixed with the vocabulary of abstract art.  There can be manipulation of size, spacing, value, color, and so on.  Like poetry, these variations are elements of expressive human individuality that restructure the language from the more rigid rule based system that keeps it practical. Through these adjustments, the feeling or mood of the words can be expressed beyond their concrete meaning, and the experience of them can rise above the specifics of the original thought.

A phrase, when used or read repeatedly, can lose the potency of its meaning.  We can become desensitized until the idea is reworded, or a powerful personal experience causes us to see it from a new perspective.  By removing the characters I’m questioning if the longevity and effectiveness of what was written can be expanded.  This is similar to the effect of unnaming something.  By unlabeling an object or organism we can free it from the weight of all the constructed concepts that man has placed onto it by naming and categorizing it.  Doing this also has the effect of heightening an awareness of sacredness.  Perhaps, in these paintings, the ideas behind the words can simply be what they are, instead of what the symbols restrict and claim them to be.

I also chose to work with language because of how it fluctuates between permanent and impermanent, subjective and concrete.  A language behaves like an organism that lives for a very long time, and through different scales of time.  A phrase is momentary as it’s being written, read, or spoken, but also generational and multigenerational. But a language is not permanent.  It will become extinct or absorbed, but it can seem lasting relative to a human lifetime.  It is a social creation with a long and dynamic lifespan that behaves organically, imparting it with characteristics that are shared by culture and nature.  Language is even a spiritual tool that can be used as a link between heaven and earth, the natural and metaphysical.  It is an art that is already conceptual and abstract, which makes it very interesting to work with.

With this work, I hope to demonstrate these characteristics. I want to convey expression in the moment of writing, while giving the impression that the essence of what is being said will last, or has lasted through ages.  They are painted to seem like they are ancient, formed of humanity and of the earth.  Some of the paintings could even be interpreted as feeling prehistoric and uncovered, the result of erosion on perceived permanence.  There is a primitive quality to them, as well as an association with petroglyphs and cave art.  I want them to trigger a sense of something that has lasted through the unpredictable changes of civilization, and was created to do so.

The background plays a large role in creating this effect. It is formed through the addition and subtraction of thin layers, much like sediment being deposited and eroded. Natural materials such as sand and dirt are also added. The surface is painted to seem formed over time, as if it has endured lifecycles.  It doesn’t act like a page to be written on, it responds to the words, continuing to change after they are painted on.  The text and the background react to each other, placing the writing within the environment not on top of it.  Within the layers are marks and forms linked to my relational inefficiency series. These marks are an abstraction of natural growth and processes. They form organically, without efficient distribution or design.  Their inclusion contrasts and informs the structure of the writing.

There is an overlap between natural processes, the effectiveness of how we use language to communicate, and the passage of time.  By removing the symbols from language and recorded thoughts I seek a better understanding of those complex relationships, and what carries them forward.