Advances in travel and comunication may make the world seem small. However, every once in a while one is in awe of a place larger than one could imagine. I had this experience as a child when I saw the swimming pool at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City, New Jersey. The pool was so impressive that I found it both facinating and a bit frightening. In my child’s mind I thought, who would build their own ocean and how could someone get to the middle without drowning.
It was hard to imagine being struck by such a similar feeling as an adult. However, while on a train from the Polish city of Gdańsk to the town of Sopot, I saw building larger than my conception could accept. I later read online that such a building may have up to 6000 people living it. To be living in the middle of it seems simultaneously intruiging and overwhelming.
Along with the fleeting feeling of being impressed by the enormity of the building, there was an experience of being on a train and on a trip to the sea. I created a drawing in an attempt to document this memory. In the drawing below the autumn day, the building, and the journey to sea become locked together.
It is easy to realize that the two places described, the pool and the building, are small compared to oceans, planets, and the wider universe. However, size is relational and our thoughts are expansive. With reflection the cracks and corners of our existance may yield wider vistas. Description and a creative perspective provides ways to unfold an endless stream of details and reinvent a sense of wonder.
For a number of years I traveled from Pennsylvania to Michigan. Several times I crossed part of Canada to get there. The first image I finished this month was an attempt to join the feelings and sense of friendships made through the time and space of this travel. The other image I worked on reacted to and built from a big stroke of leftover paint I had applied to paper. The fact that this bold green mark contained remnants of orange pigment gave me an opening to expand the palette elsewhere on the page. Suddenly new possibilities opened up. The artistic image is not a perfect window for the past. Rather it conjures up relationships and a direction for the future. While I can’t be out on the open road at this time, I can begin to chart new vistas.
Title:Michigan Canada Crossing, Media: Watercolor, Ink, and Acrylic Paint, Size: 18″ x 16 ¾”
Sometimes it is difficult to have a clear view or perspective. One’s mind may be so clouded with thoughts and worries that it is hard to stop and see what is immediate in front of oneself. Relief from this overly stimulated mind may include meditation techniques which center a person in the present. Art making can also shift a persons attention toward specific tasks and away from an overwhelming sense. Creative endeavors can lead to a sense of satisfaction brought about through focus, change, and invention. The key is to be engaged and to work. When doubt is set aside the results can be surprising.
For me, the following “Viewfinders” reflect these artists’ desire to work through problems in order to generate a less predetermined view. I say this because the layering of ink and paint in these examples point toward exploration rather than a succinct resolution. In the first two cases the work literally shows through to the other side of the paper
Eric Huebsch, Viewfinder, mixed media, 6in x 4 1/4in, 2006
Eric Huebsch shows a deftness when drawing a figure wearing rollerblades but the neck and head appear out of control (above). Not only is the neck elongated but I observe at least seven layers of media are used to create this part (e.g. ink, paint, collage,…). At the bottom is the statement “I knew you were no good”. Disturbing as this depiction may seems to be, I know some there is some “good”. No matter how painful a subject may appear the act of making art ultimately is a construction and an imagined representation that can become a focal point for dialogue.
Rebecca Vicars, Viewfinder, 4 1/4in x 6in, 2006
In the image above, Rebecca Vicars creates a view of a lush world full of growth. The description of space is loose and the painterly approach gives it the sense of a swampy wetland. A sense of control is tenuous; watercolor is applied here to provide unpredictable results. There has to be trust by the artist that through a committed effort the picture will come into focus.
Jennifer Peters, Viewfinder, monoprint, 2006
Jennifer Peters Viewfinder combines relief printing with what appears to be a monotype technique. The relief print requires carving to make a matrix that produces the print. What is carved here is premeditated, in the sense that the shapes are clearly defined, but how the shapes come together is less certain to me. The yellow marking, would make the final image a monoprint, was layered last as if to add an exclamation point. It seems to beg the question of when and what is too much? However, doing enough work to get to a point where this question becomes relavent is paramount.