a group show curated by Wanda Boudreau
The Sibley Gallery, New Orleans, LA, Dec 4-Jan 12, 2011
including works from my Vortex and Trees series: oils on panel, watercolor on clayboard, and ink drawings on paper
My drawings and paintings of trees are about modifying a language of shapes and marks to convey flow and rhythm. Seemingly solid, a tree holds volumes of air. The air eddies and swirls among its clefts, and the tree moves and gestures. Much of the vocabulary of movement– of exhalation and inspiration– reflects the capillary processes of trees. The fractal attenuation of trunks to twigs parallels the circulatory systems of humans and of rivers. An aerial photograph of the Mississippi Delta resembles a tree. Histologies from the brain’s seat of sensory and motor control look like trees.
Trees, like rivers, are essential circulatory systems.
The life of a tree inscribes itself in the annular rings of its trunk. In cross-section, the junctions of tree body and limb yield knots. In them are the nuclei of nerve cells, eyes, the eyes of hurricanes.
Trees are the standing figures of the horizontal landscape, their postures determined by access to the light and the presumptions of other trees. Although rooted in place, their movements in the wind comprise gestures. From a distance, trees are pure geometry and color. The spaces between branches are activated, shaped by how the tree holds these spaces. I look for the scars from amputated limbs and the shapes of sunlight and air through spaces in the canopy and treat them equally; one is solid form but both are defined by a lack, by the tree. To see how a tree holds light, I look at the shadows it casts, how, as on water, it casts ripples and waves of shade which flow across the grass, separating, reconstituting, then branching again. Beneath the grass are its mirror forms.
Trees are subject, collaborator, muse, metaphor, and substrate. A tree is rooted, but in its presence my imagination expands. The neural mechanisms of perception– sight lines drawing and redrawing themselves in the mind’s eye– parallel the tree’s own shadow drawing and redrawing itself in reciprocal forms on the ground.