Friday, April 11, 2008

Oars and Compasses

I thought I had pulled my oars out of the water for a bit after I wrote yesterday, but the idea of enlarging some of the red letters was just too appealing to me. I had to try it out and see what they would look like on the surface. While I am still fiddling around a bit with adding the red elements to the left side -- here's a quick view of three variations that I've tried so far -- this piece is moving closer and closer to completion. Then I can add a backing and begin the stitching that will complete it into a soft wall hanging. One of the things I appreciate most about the work I'm doing is how each piece seems to be building and expanding and refining the ideas from the previous one. I already am "seeing" how I want to alter my process of silk screening and layering for the next one.

"Bet you're tired of cutting out letters," my friend Becky said as we chatted on the phone last night -- and then I confessed that I was cutting out more letters even as we spoke! There are multitudes of more letter shapes in my near future -- more cut paper resists, more new silkscreens with positive and negative letter forms, more sketching and fleshing out new calligraphic shapes. It seems to me as I work on these pieces that both the individual letters and their relationships are growing from one piece to the next and I am both surprised and pleased at how naturally the progression seems to be developing. The compositions seem to be less about interpreting messages or meaning from their arrangements, the way we do with words and sentences, and more about the beauty of each individual form and the ambiguity of language.

I know I don't need to intellectualize what I'm doing, that the whys and wherefores of my creative process will become clearer to me with each new work I complete in this series, but it is a rainy, gray morning and I am quite happy to nest here today and pin and cut and stack little piles of letters all around fact even thinking of piles of them makes me smile. Can you envision me building stacks and stacks of them into towers until they totally surround me?? Or stringing them horizontally on long threads and attaching the ends to a frame? I better jot those ideas down in my sketchbook!

This is where the idea of a compass suddenly appears -- I do feel as though I am steadily voyaging in the direction of my own "true north." It occurs to me that these arrangements of letter forms are evolving into a mapping process. Only the terrain I'm mapping is my inner world's responses to the outer one. Written language is part of my culture and outer world; its origins interest me, and I've been reading about its history and evolution. However much I read, though, the questions still are present at the edges of my thoughts -- where are these references to written language leading me and what is it they want to say?

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