For me there is no more valuable way to start the morning in the studio than by reading poet Jane Hirshfield, and her book Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. I think it possible that I will still be reading this book, quarter-page by quarter-page, for decades; her words are so resonant and visual they transform my world each time I read them. This morning’s find was a passage on subtlety:
“ Subtlety’s etymological roots lie in the loom-woven cloth. It is the name we give to thought that is both finely textured and ranging, able to bring disparate and multiple qualities into the unified, usable fabric of a new whole. The uncertain is subtlety’s inscape: what is woven has – and needs – gaps. In subtle response, thought is stitched into place with its own undertows, opposites, and extensions, by a mind that questions and crosshatches its statements and feelings. Language itself is subtle by nature, multi-stranded of meaning – and what is good poetry if not language awake to its own powers?”
Although my work ranges over many themes, the overarching theme may be the means of expression itself: language. Even when the framework is not visible, my background in design and calligraphy is always there shaping the form images take. I am just completing a three-month focus on cut paper collage, which for me is a hidden form of typography: the considered, meditative, shaping of positive and negative shapes. It is not unlike the practice of formal Kanji, architectural forms of calligraphy based on the perfect harmony and balance of archetypal symbols. It is done with a knife, scissors and glue, and it can be a challenge to access the intuition that comes with speed and a fluid medium like ink. Every series of work I do seems to then call for its opposite, or as Hirshfield says,
“…what the medieval alchemists called solutio – the process of making something workable and transformable by making it more fluid, whether in the physical or metaphysical realms.”
In 1991 I went to Japan with two portfolios: my advertising design lettering, and my Kanji and expressive grass-style shodō. I had carved my own chops, (with honed etching needles, in marble) and I had been studying for many years with masters who came to Seattle from China and Japan. From these teachers I had learned where to place my chops. In Japan the people I was introduced to said my chops were all in the wrong place and I could never have my work shown….
So I walked over to the Tokyo branch of Hakuhodo, and after a meeting with the creative department ended up working long distance from Seattle and a fax machine (?!) doing logo design for the National Telephone company and fashion brands. Pivot is my favorite verb.
I have continued doing shodō, with my own western/Eastern/Northwest Mystic voice, exploring gesture and dialog in non-verbal alphabets that do not form words in any language but emotion. I have been collecting both Eastern and Western ephemera for collage, and the shape of the books themselves are becoming an influence. Two versions of work in progress here explore the paper field, and how context and scale affect a gesture: on a page with the intimate parameters of the page made visible, as though in the world of the scholar, and afloat in abstract space.
In April this work will be shown in Coeur D’Alene at Art Spirt Gallery. I am very excited about the show, inspired by the book Ninth Street Women. This exhibit of contemporary women artists will revisit the the synergy of the female voice in abstraction 70 years after the pioneers, Krassner, de Kooning, Hartigan, Frankenthaler and Mitchell broke out into the New York art scene with a show of abstract art in a storefront on 9th Street.
Big thanks to recent collectors who have purchased works like “A Quieter Room,” above, the Koyasan landscape, below, and others.
If you are interested in process, I will be posting the evolutions of this new work on my design and fine art accounts on Instagram.
It is a wild process of volume, iteration, and motion. In a week or two there will be no more room on my floor.
*A reminder for those interested in purchasing holiday gifts: My shop will be closed from November 27-December 16. So if you have a holiday timeline, do get in touch soon! If you would like to receive 10% through the end of the year please subscribe to my newsletter for a holiday discount coupon.