The Inklings of a Plan

As I’ve been hunting for a direction for my next body of work, I’ve been thinking about how we communicate, with each other, and our past selves. The visual messages I’ve been gathering  are coming together through these various portals:

  • Bulletin Boards
  • Repurposed Work
  • Sense of History
Bulletin Boards

Notes, lots and lots of them, are in my brain, as I collage all the text and notes I can find. I saw several similar works over last summer that seemed to reference the bulletin board concept. One that stuck with me is from Eva Isaksen: layers and layers of text, handwritten paper, all merging together, from her work created for In Context, an offshoot installation for the 2016 Seattle Art Fair. Here’s what Jen Graves had to say about it:

“Isaksen made a large tapestry that’s a soft storm of small individual prints she created on tissuey Himalayan paper. The words are taken from 40 years of her personal letters back to her homeland in Norway, in her northern Norwegian dialect, and reverse-printed so that the ink on each letter bleeds.”

Other work at the fair had this same sense of overlapping, equally urgent messages — one was made of felt —  and it brings to mind the crowd-sourced work during the election process, whether it’s people leaving notes in public places, or images of protest signs piled up and overlapped. For example, this article in The New Republic described a project by Matthew Chavez:

“[he] began a project in the Union Square subway underpass. He sat at a desk covered in colorful sticky notes and pens and invited travelers to write down their feelings and then stick them on the wall. …  He called the project Subway Therapy.”

The project has since been preserved at the New York Historical Society.

Repurposed Work

After the turn of the year, I decided that some of my older work needed to retire, including some small limited edition prints from 2010-12, as I wrote about here. I’m cutting up the prints and adding them to collage work, building up a bulletin-board feel. Then, as I’ve done before, I’m running them through my little printing press, covering them selectively with ink to create an impression of the shapes, but also to add another layer of history to the work.

Sense of History

Every time I add a layer of paint or paper, or scrape away some existing color, I think of each element as a memory: I’m enhancing it, or obscuring it, trying to represent the sense of history we all contain. When those elements are actually historical, like old books, letters, and photos, that helps even more. I continue to add to, and pull from, my collection of family images and documents. A recent treasure trove from my uncle, scans from my grandmother’s and aunt’s photo collections, will add to the historical connection.

All Together Now

It sounded easy, in my head, to just bring all these themes together into new compositions, but it’s providing surprisingly elusive. I’ve got lots of collage with text layers, and old prints, and lots of scanned images to add in, but I’m not happy yet. That’s why the plan is just in the inklings stage! I’ll keep you posted on my attempts, good or bad, and I hope to have at least the start of a new series this year.

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