When I moved to Savannah in 1992 I had no idea so many things around me would be different. The first thing that struck me was the vegetation, the Spanish Moss, palm trees, Crepe Myrtles. This tropical climate was so different from the elm trees, poplar trees and the silvery stone I was accustomed to. In Philly the seasons changed and life was marked by those changes. The rhythm of the seasons affected my work, causing me to include rich tones of drastic seasonal shifts, Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre, and Alizarin Crimson dominated my palette in those days. Now permanently residing in Savannah, the light, the gray moss covered trees, even the beach has made an indelible impression on how I produce.
In my practice I've made major shifts in the use of color and seriously contemplated how light has affected my concept and content. I shifted from a brightly colored, heavily patterned figurative in 1980s, to patterned monochromatic bleach on black paper images in the 1990s. The bleach pieces were as much about light, and environment as they were about restrictions in space. The work evolved to address process and gender.
Artist through time have been affected by color and light. In 1871, James Whistler created the famous image of his mother, better known as Arrangement in Grey and Black Number 1. I was always impressed that Whistler was contemplating value far before the subtle shifts in value made by Mondrian in Composizione (1920). White is never really white is it. This is when the push and pull of depth in space and the administration of chroma to an achromatic base is at its best. Can I produce a colorful body of work that appears to be purely achromatic? I'm in the studio addressing the depth of field using shallow space by employing incremental shifts of chromatic value.
I am confining myself to a complex flat shape that unpredictably extends beyond its limited perimeter. The work inevitably becomes about gender, and race. The shape with all its encroaching dimensions is confined within the canvas it's flatness won't allow it to move forward and it can't go beyond its own four walls. It can only draw into itself or billow around aimlessly within its own space.
Next post I am going to talk about going to the light.