It seems that wherever I am is where I find my studio. While visiting my parent’s Texas property for the holidays I prepared January’s edition of 10 Years in 12 Months. The enrollment ended on December 31, 2012 and I was able to complete the edition. Packages were put together and mailed the first week of January. I found peacefulness in the open air on acres lost down a long dirt road. Their three dogs accompanied my quiet moments of making art with my hands. I felt close to nature and close to the earth. The place and I shared the same frequency; it was as if I could feel my body growing roots down into the soil wanting to be planted securely into that earth.
The irony is that the concrete body of art that I was working on has its roots far back into my childhood and is about the beauty of impermanence. Perhaps as children a lot of us had a connection to playing in the natural world, in trees, with sticks, in grassy fields, in dirt; digging holes, building rafts for the ponds, wading in creek beds. We were close to nature and weather played a role as well, some of us had snow, some of us, like me, had long warm summers and when it would rain, mud was abundant.
Mud was good for squishing underfoot, but it was also good to reach down and form the earth with our tiny little hands. I remember the thrill of making what we called ‘mud pies’. How I could feel the earth wet and resilient in my hands, too much water and it ran through my fingers, not enough and it crumbled away. I could form it with my hands but I noticed it usually slowly relaxed to a blob before the sun could dry it and then the rain would reclaim it. In all my efforts to build something, I was reminded, it would all pass away.
I was a child then, but as an adult I returned to the earth when I began gardening for a hobby. Once again my hands were back in the soil feeling the connection to the earth. This time it had an added element, these ‘mud pies’ I could actually eat. They were fresh delicious vegetables and not mud bricks. The earth yielded the vegetables and I gave back to the soil by composting. One afternoon I sat at the window of my second story kitchen window looking down on my beautiful garden, thinking of how we share with each other, the garden with its vegetables from the ground and me with composting and caring for the soil.
It was then I began to think again of the impermanence, but a permanent impermanence, the cycle. The seasons ever changing; what is growing, then dieing and cycles made sense. Part of the vegetables will take on a new energy in my body; parts will be broken down in the soil. What is, is no more, what is, changes, it becomes new form.
I looked to my kitchen and thought of the food, its not the beginning of the cycle, its an arc, impermanent food for our impermanent bodies that will all change form, that is changing form every moment. Yet we take the time to prepare sometimes handsome and creative dishes and we do it everyday. We make something beautiful, then we eat it and it is gone. Cakes and desserts for example can be beautiful shapes and colors that are created as temporary delicious beauty. I realized they are not so far removed from the primitive ‘mud pies’ or even the vegetables. They are part of a cycle, a creative force that makes temporary beauty, an impermanent season of life that is always changing.
Concrete would make great barrier walls for the garden beds. I had already been considering working with concrete in my art for two years. It was a strong material much different than the strength of my delicate drawings or less intricate and mechanical than my typewriter art. However, I had been attracted to this heavy, messy, durable medium. Appealing to me for its shape capabilities, its mass connotations and building works outdoors was something my spirit yearned to process.
In 2006 I sat at a window looking back and forth from out to the garden then in at my kitchen. I had an idea – when the shape of impermanence is exhibited as organic forms creating a larger structure… I got up went to the hardware store, bought a bag of cement, and the body of work I affectionately nicknamed Treatcretes was born. Permanent Impermanence.
January’s edition of 10 Years in Twelve Months Art Subscription is a perfect place to start the commemoration. The concrete body of work was forming since the beginning of my career. I began thinking of concrete in 2004 just one year after the studio opening. The concrete pieces, inspired by the beauty of temporary, are the idea of building impermanence. Reflecting on cycles of my studio, I find many changes. I am reminded of the concrete work as I continue to produce art and be creative in a transient time. It is part of the celebration. Embracing change