My mentor encouraged me to revisit and re-investigate the process of moving from representation to non-representation–allowing myself to examine each frame in the gradual mutation of form for its unique weight, personality and clarity.

While not suggesting I work representationally for the sake of representation, Karsten framed the visual experiment as a process in itself. I’ll take an image or idea and work from pure representation to pure abstraction, examining each in-between stage in context to the gradual shift, but also as a unique artifact or conversation in itself. Individual stages communicate differently, and in some cases more effectively, than other stages (for a given concept)–opening future possibilities.

My work from the last two years has purposefully straddled the line between representation and more complete abstraction, inviting recognizable shapes to tumble in non-traditional space. This middle ground functions conceptually by addressing the in-between point of matter origination; atomic wave-particles coming together (or falling away), generating and degenerating shape and form, object and energy.

My visual vocabulary is developed from an abstraction of rock formations, architecture found at important archaeological sites, Joshua trees and the contours of stone “documents,” steles, obelisks and scrolls. I’ve assembled several galleries below, showing how I mutate marks, breaking away from the anchored landscape.

This semester (a another side exercise), I’ll be doing something similar to what I’ve shared below, but this time including more transitional stages. I will follow a single iteration from one point to the next, encouraging a more gradual shift.  I’m including these galleries here so you can see some of the thinking behind my mark mutations and spatial considerations.

These are few sketches done in graphite, ink and Prismacolor.

Examples of my more representational sketches:


Examples of slightly less representational sketches:


Examples of in-between sketches:


Examples of more abstracted sketches:

It should also be noted that the more abstracted each object becomes, the more it appears isolated on the page in these sketches. That’s because as I abstracted them, I also broke them into component layers. To create a finished composition, I would layer many individual moments together, without anchoring them to a traditional space! So, the abstraction resulted in a breakdown of the expected landscape surface.

So, this Fall I’ll be experimenting with this process again, taking a single iteration and following it through each specific stage of development.

The result will be a gradual dissolution of the reliance upon representation if read left to right, and a gradual inclusion of representational space if read right to left. It’s designed so that I can examine each stage of progression. I may uncover that the “sweet spot” for a future piece is closer to representation (or closer to pure abstraction) than I thought! Or, in the end, if I maintain the in-between balance I’ve been pursuing, I’ll have continued to hone and analyze my mark-making at all points on the spectrum, keeping me fresh and invigorated.


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