You may remember my cohort’s collaborative group project from one of my previous posts. We were divided into pairs, with each pair responding to a quote and developing an original work on a 9″ x 6″ card. We mail our finished interpretation to our partner, who responds to it by working back into the surface.
I received my partner, Nancy Meyer’s, card last week and I percolated for a few days:
I put the card up in my living room and “lived” with it for several days, considering it carefully. As I am already familiar with Nancy’s work and its investigation of socio-cultural body image (and knowing the amazing progression she made between our first and second residencies), I hated to even think about altering the surface!
That was the hardest part of the collaboration, really. Not wanting to overturn, or reorient, my partner’s response.
In thinking about Nancy’s visual response, I could see she had distilled the already abstract body forms into ornamented, formal shapes. The fearless use of glitter and baubles speaks to Nancy’s concept of excess, which walks a tantalizingly dangerous line between craft and art, immediately igniting traditional dichotomies of high and low, proper and improper. Nancy’s glittery abundance also changed the collaged, photographic paper surface–immediately resisting the flat, natural place of paper. My familiar, safe-zone approaches were denied by the sculptural terrain.
After analyzing the work, I focused on the point of the collaboration: to respond to her response, integrating our joint idea of self as verb.
Nancy’s ‘self as formal element’ began to remind me of the undulating rock shapes I’ve used across several projects–shapes that anchor my own investigation of self as (geologic) verb, both within this collaborative project, as well as in The Cascade, my MFA thesis. The more I observed them, the more they became a windowed, earthen landscape with a clear valley and monumental presence.
So, I dove in. I had to let go of being worried about ‘ruining’ Nancy’s work, knowing it’s really about the result of our response.
I painted and drew, allowing the photo paper to generate pools of color that reticulated–building a sky and horizon, while allowing the original self to integrate and support naturally. I also applied an iridescent interference color to part of the blue background (and some of the foreground) to provide extra depth between the clarity of the central sky and the distance.