The Wreck




12x12 mixed media on panel




"And once the storm is over, you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won't be the same person who walked in."

~ Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore.

 


Are you like me in that I find the ocean magnificent and enchanting? Do you dream about beach holidays or boating adventures? Do you love the rhythmic sounds of the waves lapping upon the shore? Bodies of water hold intrigue and mystery that are capable of capturing my imagination like nothing else. Add a wreck, tragedy, or story to that vast body of water, and my mind travels in all directions. It turns out there is something mirror-like about the sea. Like us, it has a dual nature. We can see our reflection in the calm, fair waters but feel our energy in the rage, producing a double effect of conjuring premonition or nostalgia. The ability to imagine oneself at sea from shore, to leap into the future or the past, seems universal.

Last spring, an empty Barge crashed into the protective sea wall near my home during a stormy night. Because I live here and tend to like objects of metaphor to which I can create meaning, I choose the event for a small series of paintings. Storms and the threat of shipwreck, or actual shipwreck, turn out to be the embarkation point for many narratives and maybe one of the starting points of literature itself. The Odyssey 7c BCE, for example, begins with Odysseus fleeing the devastation of Troy in a tempest with his flotilla off the coast of Carthage. Paintings, like literature, can explore both the worlds in our heads and those around us. It is possible in a 2D plane to effortlessly shift between those two ideas: the literal image or the abstract feeling.

The sound of the 333-ton steel vessel colliding with the granite ledge of the coastline sent an alarming call to the neighborhood. An assemblage of people gathered that night along the rocky coast, observing a vertical thrust of sea spray crashing against a motionless mass looming from the darkness. The washed-up barge sat idle on the sea wall for weeks until the US Coast guard could finally extrapolate the vessel from the rocks. The first problem I had to answer was how to paint sound, and the second was movement. I choose an unrestricted brush stroke to achieve both of these. Ideas, as opposed to objects, are conveyed through design, color, and mark-making.

In this case, the success of a painting is not how much it resembles an object but rather how successful it is in transporting your inner mind to a feeling place. The beginning of understanding abstract art is to understand what it is not. To understand abstract art, you need an open mind and a wandering imagination. You need to be able to look beyond objects you already visually recognize. Abstract art cannot be explained in words because the idea behind specific symbols speaks about the artist and the viewer personally. I love both sides of art. I love the art of looking and replicating, but I also love the freedom of expression that abstraction brings. As my painting evolves, I hope to bring elements of both together in my way. How I achieve that is for us all to discover as the process becomes.




I came to explore the wreck...

The thing I came for:

the wreck and not the story of the wreck

the thing itself and not the myth

—Adrienne Rich,

"Diving into the Wreck"



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