Forest for the Trees: 17 Years in the Making, Revealed and Explained!

Phew! Here's the piece that I've been quietly working on for what feels like forever:) It's on display now at Make.Shift Gallery in Bellingham, WA through the end of the month, so even if you missed the opening you can still catch the show.

So, what the heck is this thing? Here's my official statement:

"Because the question for me was always whether the shape we see in our lives was there from the beginning or whether these random events are only called a pattern after the fact...do you believe in fate?" 

Cormac McCarthy

It's hard to believe, but the creation of this project has spanned over a decade and a half. Much has changed during that time. When I started I was 24, renting a room in a house full of strangers, recovering from a bad breakup, working at a  job that I hated and trying to figure out if/how to go back to college. I would come home from work, head straight to my room and work on art. One day, I took out my old journals. Seven years worth. I started reading them and I remember wishing we would shed our thoughts every seven years, the same way we do with our cells. This project began as a representation of that idea. I ripped the pages out of the journals, added washes of color here and there, cut the pages into diamond shapes, glued them onto clear plastic and coated everything with mold-making rubber. The result was slightly grotesque, like a shed snakeskin. After it dried I packed it away, not sure what exactly to do with it all. I had hundreds of feet of this stuff; it was a bit overwhelming. 

Over the next many years, my art practice took a backseat to the slings and arrows of life and the project remained packed away until 2012. When I finally took a peek, my heart sank! The mold-making rubber was sticky on most of the panels. I cut my losses and threw out the sticky pieces, salvaging the remainder. A few more turbulent years passed. In 2018 obstinance, an insatiable urge to create and a waste-not mentality, compelled me to unearth this project yet again. I felt drawn to encapsulate this strange material in wax. The selection of imagery was a treasure hunt through my visual archives. Sketches and photographs long forgotten leapt out at me. Stylized trees and subatomic particles led me to a re-interpretation of the work. I followed the breadcrumbs. 

Unanswerable questions and amorphous quasi-epiphanies tug at me. I am bewildered by the contexts within contexts ad infinitum in which we live, mystified by the ever unfolding patterns in life, taunted by the desire to understand the big picture. At the most infinitesimally tiny scale, matter and energy become interchangeable tricksters. Weird! Are fate and free will intertwined in this way, too? And consciousness! What is it and where did it come from? Is it the incessant internal monologue or something else entirely? Along with these half-baked musings, this piece is an ode to resilience, fiercely stubborn optimism and a celebration of process. It has become a metaphor for my “hero’s journey” through life thus far. I look back now at my 24 year old self with compassion that I did not feel at the time. I recall the burning questions that I had then (will I ever finish college? find my soulmate? have a stable home? Yes, yes and yes!)  and I see that although those questions have been answered, new questions have taken their place. This piece is a reminder that to myself that I don’t have to “figure it all out”. Perhaps most of all, this piece is about reclaiming aspects of myself that I had rejected as I stumble back home to my innate wholeness and connection with life.

Et Voila!

 


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