2018 DAY TRIP at the Frank Brockman Gallery March 2018 with Michel Droge and Marci Spier
Ancient navigational tools, specifically the star compass, Polynesian stick charts, and the Astrolabe, inform and explore the intersection of space and time with human intuition and spirit. I have been practicing a form of mapping that draws from these ancient methods and simultaneously explores the relationship of the inner and outer world.These paintings are an expansion of this mapping practice and push further into imagined realms. They present a perspective that is situates the viewer in an hemispheric zone of distance as well as an internal arena. Thus we disrupt the colonial ideas of space and time and reconfigure our ground in ways of thinking/navigating that are deeply connected to layers of psychological engagement, cultural memory, and spiritual quest.
HIRAETH(n.)- In Welsh: “A homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia,the yearning, the grief for lost pieces of your past.”
Our lives, filled with benign and mundane activities, are sometimes fraught with unexpected events: tragic, traumatic and mysterious. As we constantly adjust to a new understanding of our world, the aftermath of trauma leaves an impression that steers us to a new awareness and an awakening of senses leaving us at times in a state of disorientation and confusion. In this instance we often experience a collateral beauty, unexpected abundance, and residual spiritual awareness.
This work dives into the family disease of addiction and the navigation of recovery. Using the Aran Sweater, knit with a family pattern to identify drowned sailors, the unraveling explores the impact of addiction on families. The navigation and star charts in this work are a metaphor for recovery through an emotional and environmental charting and wayfinding. How do we find our way back home in the uncharted territories of addiction and recovery?
This work is some of my most personal work, having lost my brother to this disease and through my own personal journey through 18 years of recovery. Within this realm I hope to convey the impact of the losses and the tangles of the disease along with the solutions of recovery, a connection to the environment as a tool and a promise for healing with stories of recovery
This work more broadly considered,is an exploration of the intersection of destruction and creation; a navigation of the unconscious, (at times archetypal and collective), and those uncharted waters of emotional realms.
As I connect with the realities of our uncertain world, I begin to imagine a post human/post animal landscape. I envision this future landscape infused with our residual essence and spirit; the love, care for the earth, quiet, and mystery that lingers .
Although void of any human or animal species , these paintings are painted with a layering of glazes resulting in a sheen that captures the viewer's reflection and locates them within the landscape. This is an invitation to enter an imagined, mysterious, evolving , atmospheric space. Beyond an expression of hope, this work portrays the aftermath of our existence. What remains in these imaginary landscapes is the dynamic and powerful spirit (love) represented by the hot red and orange embers in the atmosphere.
Wrapped in these night wanderings, in the gloaming, is a somnambulant shared dream space where we may find wonder and beauty. These Nocturnes offer quiet times when we can hear and see and even say things that might not make sense in the day, but which carry the messages from the unconscious that may contain the answers we need and the nourishment we crave.
2015 TINY CATASTROPHES
Not unlike the canary in the coal mine the small islands on our coast will be first to see the impacts of climate change. Although the effect appears mild at the moment, the changes are gradual; seemingly minor changes have a profound cumulative effect.
This new body of work is a perceptual exploration of island culture and the impending impacts of climate change. Informed by recent island travels and environmental research, this work investigates ideas of independence, strength, beauty, adaptation, and survival. My approach to this work is personal, curious, psychological and at times darkly humorous. These atmospheric etchings, small representational oil paintings, and larger dreamlike oil paintings provide a window into the narratives of island culture and climate change. My intent is not to illustrate , but to engage the viewer on a human level with the beauty and the power of the changes occuring. Sometimes clearly defined, sometimes less obviously noted , our engagement with the environment is many faceted: destructive , sublime, and survival driven. This multi-tiered approach to such an overwhelming topic will catch your eye (and reel you in) with its apparent levity, subsequently leaving you with an impression of its gravitas. – Michel Droge, March 2015
2012 SAPHOS GHOSTS
These five paintings are inspired by Anne Carson’s If Not ,Winter a translation of the fragments of Sappho’s poems and songs. Carson’s translation takes into account the missing pieces of the poet’s work by leaving empty space in the publication where the fragments of parchment (and portions of the poem) are missing. Ann Carson’s translation celebrates the importance of the lost pieces of the poem as integral to the work and as an important part of the poem that is present. By drawing our attention to the entirety of each poem –both in absence and in presence- we become aware of the presence of this absence.
The simultaneous presence and absence of Sappho’s work in Carson’s translation is conveyed through these paintings .The rich, sensuous nature of Sappho’s spirit transcends. This work was painted with a foundation of color that I extrapolated from the rich colors of parchment as it ages. The under painting of this work is made from those warm hues and is painted with a linen like texture. The next layers were then painted and erased and painted again, creating a palimpsest that both defines and obscures the ideas expressed in the poetry and acknowledges that which was lost. The atmospheric elements of the paintings suggest a ghostly mist that concurrently shrouds and illuminates the layers below.
Michel Droge negotiates the place of the individual in relation to the natural world. During her ongoing travels in northern Maine, Droge has conducted a number of interviews with survivors of storms, shipwrecks, and other tragedies at sea. She then translates these remembered experiences into eerie painted scenes where pieces of rope float, barely visible through white mists that hover above an inky backdrop. With no evidence of the human form, the images seem like tightly focused views of a limitless vortex. Droge’s works seem weighted down by their emptiness, signaled by the exaggerated contrast between her dark grounds and wisps of whitish paint, and convey a heartbreaking absence that is evident even without knowledge of these paintings’ backstories. Despite the current communal willingness to overshare daily, Droge’s paintings serve as a reminder that some human experiences remain almost beyond linguistic communication, mysteriously unspeakable in their gravity.- Cameron Shaw