Braided string, suction catheters, metal, enamel paint
This is no more a yellow sweater than a fertilized egg is life.
Then again, it does have the potential to be a yellow sweater. It’s made up with chain stitches. There are pompoms and a repeating pattern. It does resemble the shape of a sweater after-all. Sort of. Doesn’t it? And if you can see color, you can certainly see that it is, in fact, yellow! On the other hand, if you are color blind, whether or not it’s yellow may not matter to you so you can just believe me that it is a yellow sweater. Why would I lie?
Repetition is persuasive. It strengthens neuropathways.
If I say to you “This is a yellow sweater,” and repeat it over and over again, chances are you will come to believe it is a yellow sweater.
To be controlled in this way is to be under the influence of the illusory truth effect. We’ve all been manipulated by it. We stop thinking for ourselves, don’t bother researching facts and limit our possibilities that could expand our knowledge.
This is a yellow sweater.
A New Kind of Landscape
I just finished two small landscape paintings that I started in 2012. Crazy, huh. But that's how it goes. Sometimes, pieces take years to resolve. They are called Fringe and Rake.
The genre of landscape painting is a foundation in the history of painting and a recurring theme in art that is studied countless ways. Our evolution of language has expanded this word “landscape” beyond its signifying noun for an outdoor, botanical environment, natural or human made.
“Landscape” has become an umbrella-term to mean any scope of space, tangible, immaterial, hypothetical, macro or microscopic. This includes internal landscapes of thoughts, emotions and dreams; scientific landscapes of research; religious landscapes of theology and practice; landscapes of business relations; political landscapes and territorial landscapes; social, cultural and ethnic landscapes and so on. We could even discuss landscapes of ethical nature.
Metaphor is also extrapolated from the landscape to convey ideas that have nothing to do with any physical span of land. Like, the phrase “low hanging fruit” which was used a lot in 2000 when stem cell research was forging forward at remarkable speeds with cures for neurological impairments within reach. Today, due to dogma that stalled this research, we are more likely to hear that such potential breakthroughs are “on the horizon” meaning somewhere in the distant future. In traditional landscape painting, the horizon is in the background, a placement of design typically structured with less importance or as a “back-story.”
In these oil painted landscaped, I have pierced the foreground to place the medical tubes I use to nourish my son “un-naturally.” I attached their tips through the punctures/stomas I made. And this brings your attention to the foremost front of the work. When I am in a state of process, however, I am more intuitive. Conscious thinking is not typically in the forefront of my awareness when I am producing art. Unless, I am struggling with something, thoughts dissipate.
Inserting these tubes into my canvasses was not so different from how the tubes are attached to a body being cared-for. During training, there is more conscious thinking, but eventually, skills become intuitive. Intuition comes from learning. These moments of care-taking and art-making are so similar that it’s blatantly clear to me that they are different appendages of the same thing.
The attention these tubes bring to an, otherwise banal landscape painting, are the focal point of these landscapes, an intentional purpose. I do not like when aides pull my son from social situations to feed him as if this is something best hidden. My deliberate arrangement of these tubes interrupts previous precepts. The result is a new kind of landscape.
When the opportunity presents itself, I want to further explore this concept with a much wider, vast horizontal illusion, in mural size with hundreds of feeding tubes.
We’ll celebrate feeding tube awareness, nutritional health and have an inclusive lunch!
(Imagine smiley-face emoji here.)
#feedingtubeawareness #nutritionalhealth #foodie #contemporarylandscapepainting
A Chain Reaction to Agency
I am getting ready for a show (and talk) at USC Keck School of Medicine Hoyt Gallery. The title is Chain Reaction. In addition to a statement, Ted Meyer has asked me to write descriptions for the work that can accompany the pieces. I know this task can either enhance or end someone's experience with the work so my intention is to provide additional information that won't discard other perceptions. Fingers crossed. The description I wrote for Hexaptyph has much to do with all the work in the collection so I chose to share it here on my blog.
TITLE: Hexaptyph “When everything you thought you knew no longer functions the way you thought it did"
MEDIA: Oil on canvas, acrylic on Model Magic, stainless steel, wood, extruded acrylic rod.
A hexaptych (or polyptych) is a multi-panel, altarpiece, common during the Early Renaissance. These images were used to tell stories. My contemporary hexaptych (made of six panels) depicts the burning of chairs juxtaposed with models of brains.
Chairs embody characteristics of people, specifically their bodies (backs, legs, arms, seats). So to burn a chair is to kill a body, or in this case, the idea of a body.
Our brain-body relationships depend upon the firing of neurons that are charged secondary to sensory stimuli. We form our stories from this stimuli. You are doing this right now. And you are using your physical awareness to do so.
Despite outward appearances on the body, the basil ganglia, located within the midbrain, is the rooted location of the injury within my son's brain. This midbrain gateway from brain to body for motor control is the basis for his form of Cerebral Palsy. Here, neuronal barriers make it difficult to sense ones own body in space. Balance and equilibrium are impacted because muscle neurons fire uncontrollably. And knowledge, which is normally gained through movement or the memory of movement in relation to the world, is less obtainable.
A group of nuclei in the midbrain make up the basil ganglia. With deprivation of life-dependent oxygen, there happens a chemical change as the brain transcends in an attempt to save itself. This causes calcium deposits to form. An ethereal and symmetrical pooling of these deposits appear on an MRI as a white moth-like shape. It signifies death of brain tissue. Scars left behind are peppered throughout the circulatory system of the brain. Their knotty fabric blocks neuropathways hindering the flow of information. Extensive damage impairs the four quadrants of the body: right and left arm, right and left leg, and the body’s center: its trunk, neck, vocal cords, tongue and swallow. Additionally, all areas of sensory input can be involved including sight, hearing and the nerve endings for receiving touch and feeling pain. Physiological change is the result of a global chain reaction.
Clearly, I am not illustrating this medical phenomenon in my hexaptypch. I am, however, meditating on the brain-body connection as I now understand it, through making tight renderings of which my brain and body are capable. I’ve strung together a narrative having to do with my relationship with my son using sensory stimuli and muscle memory that blend and separate the two of us (My brain-his body. His body-my body and so forth.) It is a conflated combination that continues to color my view of the world and give me agency.