Friday, October 28, 2016

speaking of practice

 my studio

When it comes to talking about my practice, the older I get the harder it is. At least to talk about it directly.  

I make things, messy things, full of color made from materials that feel and smell wonderful. These materials are full of potential and full of limits.

And I use these messy, wonderful materials to make something that may help me understand something that I didn’t understand before.
I recently told my students that in my practice I was trying to make a painting that I had never seen before, but all I have in my mind’s eye are all the other paintings I have ever seen before. Now that’s an interesting problem to work with. 

When I think about my work, mine is a practice of curiosity. A reach of intention, of hope.  I hope to make something, like the stone in the river or the shell on the shoreline that will cause you to pause, and wonder and begin to ask questions.
The way into the work is from one body to another.

My artist statement says:
“What has become increasingly important for me is the relationship between the painting as a physical entity and a transcending metaphoric object. I want to make a painting that stresses itself as a material object, yet also engages the metaphor of picture making.  What does that mean??
There is the subject of the hand, of color, of the paint itself. There is also the subject of poetic image.”

I think it is in this relationship that I find strong connections to the experience of being in body. I think of my paintings as obstructions (they are attempts to interfere, to stop you, to arrest your attention) and yet they are also points of interface (of connection)."

  Polso, oil on linen, d. callis

In a world of simulacra, where we are awash with images who’s thin meanings are predetermined for desire, persuasion, and consumption. I want to make something that doesn’t look like what one might expect.

I want to make an image that has not had it’s meaning predetermined. In fact, it may be an object that bears witness to the clumsy and at times desperate search for its meaning. I attempt to arrest moments where circumstance, response and consequence begin to create structure.
I’m interested in places where meaning used to reside in one form and has yet to take on new.

I make paintings where forms and gestures stand with intention. They reach toward meaning making but haven’t arrived at the place where that is fixed. I consider myself a ‘hunter of forms’. I want to materialize that ‘hunting’, that searching – to give form to that elusive ‘thing’ that is always passing.

Like the tape on the back of this delivery truck, I’m interested in the residue of meaning (a site of an old instruction label or...) Also the evidence of intentionally. The beautiful worn surfaces of the door caused by it being used again and again (for the thing it was designed for).

I want to create optimistic objects that are laden with the residues of intention.

I’m interested in the place (an embodied space – in this case the street sign) where meaning is being negotiated. At the space of transition, a kind of threshold space of meaning making.

Often at this threshold space the new meaning is not apparent.
“the poet (artist) jolts us, causing us to ‘stand and stare’ at the world, to pause and look again, and again, rather than moving quickly on, content that we have seen all and understood all.” Trevor

Italo Calvino, writes a wonderful short story called ‘A sign in Space’ in which his character is the first organism to consciously create a sign. In the story his character talks about the idea of making a ‘sign’; a thing that involves the use of hand and tool but when you remove the hand and tool the thing, the sign, remains.

 Big Bang, oil & mixed media on linen, d. callis

These are “signs of intention, signs of forming meaning.”

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