Today my focus is on the connection between the content of the art and the medium. Truly artists each pursue a specific medium or find themselves drawn to a particular media. I describe myself as a "trained painter", painting has always been my medium. However, on the side I bead, crochet, photograph, weave, garden. All these things inform my work and develop my sensibilities of color, space, texture, and surface.
While in graduate school I had a comrade who said," a painter paints because they believe in the fantasy of the picture plane, on the other hand a sculpture sculpts because they like to experience the physicality of the form." I see many graduate shows in Savannah. I often go into these exhibitions and wonder, was that the best media to get your point? Alternatively, I think, what are you trying to say? Does the method/ medium you chose really convey that?
An art show should read like a book, each section a chapter, the individual image the content. The medium the work produced in assists in the reading. Viewing an art show should not require one to have to read words to comprehend the imagery. There is a fabulous essay by Mira Schor, titled, Modest Painting from her book, A Decade of Negative Thinking (2009. Duke University Press). She emphasizes the importance in the application of the medium, such as in the works of Gerhard Richter. Shor directs her reader to understand that painting does not have to be grandiose to communicate effectively. It is the method, which communicates the idea.
In my recent painting, I focus on capacity and constrained space. I use the painted surface, as a portal, it can be inviting, or, confrontational. My paintings show the sculptural form on a two dimensional surface, a comment on the limitations and the falsified illusion of dimensional space. Is paint the best direction to comprehension? Years ago, I concluded that a painting should be able to do everything I needed. The paint could be hyper-realistic, intimate, hard metal or, soft clay. This freed me from the intimidating feeling that I should be exhibiting in some other medium. It also cleared me from the feeling that painting had to be useful like a cup or bowl. The purpose of the painting is to share the earth's many stories.
I work in other mediums, I crochet, photography, bead, and weave it is the tactile quality I like. Looking across the repetition of the work is also pleasurable I even enjoy the finger motion and the meditation in that process. When editing my photographs I enjoy shifting contrasts and the heightened drama of light and shadow. In beading, it is color combinations, contrasts of surface, and natural stone. These works are ephemeral in nature for me, mere exercises.
In my next post, I will discuss the multiple two dimensional methods to convey this idea.
These pictures show a struggle to connect color to concept, a transition to earth related tones.