Work In Progress: ROT Layer 6
Work In Progress: ROT
November 14, 2015
Layer 6 is starting to pull the piece together. Some parts of the structure of the composition are breaking up into little pieces while others are still retaining their shape. I like the contrast of smaller bits of color with larger flat shapes.
It became apparent to me that I am not going finish this piece as originally planned some time ago. The obvious indicator was time. Each layer has become increasingly more complex to cut and now it is taking over a month to complete a layer. Since the exhibition is in January, I will only have the time to complete one final layer. This was hard for me to accept at first, but now as I work through the process tweaking it to accommodate the schedule, I am grateful for this constraint. I now think that without it I would have overworked the piece. Sometimes the things that are not under my control contribute greatly to making a piece work.
Typically, I’m not too keen on documenting my work in progress. Exposing the awkwardness of developing piece is something I avoid, usually to protect the uneven growth of the work. I need to provide space for it to safely fail, to have the freedom to hit a dead end and make a U-turn. Already this piece has hit many dead ends. Many iterations died before anything was ever manifested. But, I make an exception for the ROT exhibition at the Art Center in Corvallis. I agreed to blog about it. Waiting until everything is complete and ready to present to the public makes for a sparse blog. Initially I was hesitant to take on this project. I already have a large-scale project in progress in my studio and I’m eager to complete the first piece. I resisted Rot because 1) I didn’t want to take time away from that project; and 2) I couldn’t figure out how I would fit this in to what I am already doing. Trying to fit it in resulted in frustrating dead-ends. Once I let go of trying to make it conform to the logic of my other project things started to happen. Now I’m grateful for the opportunity to do something completely different. It’s allowed me to enter the play mode of creativity in an intense way. The process of working on Rot is unfamiliar to me. The materials I am working with make me feel awkward. I’m learning as I go because I can’t plan ahead when I don’t know where the immediate step will lead. It’s also made documenting my progress more fun. I have no idea if we will be witnessing an epic fail together, or the making of something that works.
*NOTE: The foil is arbitrary — it came that way from the hardware store and is only a temporary backing for the work in progress. The final piece will be mounted directly on the wall. Please ignore the shiny silver as best you can.
Image below: Layer 6 Gouache on Paper 17 1/2 in. x 70 in.
Progression of the Work in Progress
Rot: The Afterlife of Trees
Window-like holes created by insects open into the interior of a log revealing ribbons of cubical brown rot, cellulose long gone. Fungus, like an old scab with edges curling and dry, has been transforming the log that became part of the architecture of the creek many floods in the past. I manipulated the size of the fungus to 36 times its actual size and isolated it from its original surroundings of the log to investigate it without distraction. Most of this fungus is hidden. I increased the scale to be able to explore the structure of the fungus beyond the form that is accessible to my eye and I have found that it has a honeycomb structure that is simultaneously exquisite and grotesque. Often with a new subject, as with this fungus, I work with gouache on paper. I struggle with gouache, and I chose to use it because it mirrors my internal struggle with the subject. Sustaining More Life in Its Death is built layer upon layer of paper. Each layer cuts away windows to the layer underneath, as rot has created windows into the layers of wood. The process of making it is like creating a door that leads to deeper layers and complexity of understanding.