Work In Progress: ROT Final Layer

January 5, 2016

Work In Progress: ROT

Final Layer

January 5, 2016

The final layer is completed. It’s an odd feeling. I’ve have spent so much time with this project over the past 6 months. As much as I was happily anticipating finishing, I was unprepared to finish gluing the last piece and not moving directly into cutting another layer. I am going to miss the process of   working through this piece. At times it has been tedious, frustrating, maddening, meditative and deeply satisfying. However it is not yet complete. This Sunday I will hang it in the Arts Center in Corvallis, Oregon. That’s when I will meet it for the first time.

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:

Final Layer

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.

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