This is a written response I provided to one of my professors that accompanies my newest collection, Ontology.
Over the past several weeks, I have spent every night after my children go to bed in my studio. Lost in a continuous soundtrack of Alan Watts’ lectures and audible books and reflecting on my own personal emotions. Coincidentally, over the past few weeks, I have gone through a physical change as well—through a series of MRIs, blood tests, an echocardiogram, and doctor’s appointments. A complete inability to control my own health has been forgotten in the moments when I am able to control every aspect of painting. I believe I’ve had a sense of enlightenment in creating this collection, which I have named “Ontology.” Ontology, simply put, the theory of being. In more scientific terms, ontology deals with a certain hierarchy of being—a study of what higher powers exist or don’t exist; however, it is my own reflection of self and how I fit into this earth that I focused on.
When I first read the criteria for this assignment, my fear was that I would not be able to create something that tied to my interest in science. I want my work to be purposeful, and a connection to science and how the world works is something I can not abandon, no matter how an assignment attempts to sway my creativity. Traditionally, when we consider a connection to science, we think about geology or physics. For this assignment, I took a more introspective scientific view—an analysis of the emotions of a moment in time. The hypothesis was that individual moments and thoughts create their own series of patterns and magnetism to certain colors.
Creating a “high modern” work of art requires a certain level of simplification—an abstraction of a thing or thought or place. The imagery is nondescript in every way. Simple shapes come together to create an apex of action; however, without a detailed explanation of what the picture “is,” one is left to their own devices to decipher the work. Additionally, my work is created out of anything but a trivial sense of needing to paint something. When one looks at a work of art such as Mondrian’s “Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow,” the viewer is in charge of their own emotions. They’re not staring at a portrait of a young girl, or a bowl of fruit. What is it? What’s the purpose? Why is the artist depicting this particular set of shapes and lines? High modern art evokes these questions. It presents nothing as-is. I took a more modern approach to my work than Mondrian, in that I understand the workings of the world a bit more realistically. As Alan Watts stated here:
“The physical world is wiggly. Clouds, mountains, trees, people, are all wiggly. Only when human beings get to working on things-they build buildings in straight lines & try to make out that the world isn’t really wiggly.”
A meticulous attention to thought and an exhaustive attempt to control the subconscious was present while I created this work. I needed to do something a bit counterintuitive: control the thoughts I was having in the moment to accurately paint a designated moment in time. In order to create what I would consider the “last” work of high modern art, there had to be a marrying of elements that seem contradictory—simplification of imagery, but highly developed, primitively-styled, but refined and educated in the use of media.