Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Summary- Fall 09
Professor Julia Scher
Salley Knight

If I could put one word on this semester it’s been “exploration”: of materials, of my vision, and of my inspiration. I created works inspired by Jessica Stockholder, Richard Tuttle, and Anna Torma. I explored ideas about my eyesight, line and embroidery, and ways to bring more dimension to my work by creating silk cubes and whorls.
At the beginning of December I felt lost. I had gone so far into my explorations that I had lost my bearings. I related to Bruce Nauman’s experience in art school of feeling like a bouncing ball. Where am I? What questions am I pursuing in this visual medium called art?
After all is said and done, I seem to be still dealing with the question that I came to Lesley with, only now slightly reframed: what is it to love the land? Is it about my memory of the light? Is it about the feeling of the earth beneath my feet (or the horse’s feet) in climbing or descending? Is it the expanse of space, the light, the warmth of the air from on high versus the cool, closed, narrow valley? Is it in contrast to the world of people/schools/order? These are the questions I have just begun to address.
The artist that I found whose work comes closest to addressing some of these ideas is Maya Lin. In Maya Lin’s book Systemic Landscapes, Richard Andrews writes:
Lin’s …works explore how our understanding of landscape is framed by our personal experience with the natural world. Such knowledge is, of necessity, fragmentary, based on relationships to particular landscapes, and leads us to recognize that we can very fully understand nature, in much the same way that we cannot completely comprehend consciousness, because we exist within it (62).
In his book Space and Place: the Perspectives of Experience , the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan suggests that the full range of feeling and thought are included in the experience of land:
Experience (of the outside world) is compounded of feeling and thought. Human feeling is not a succession of discrete sensations: rather memory and anticipation are able to wield sensory impacts into a shifting stream of experience so that we speak of a life of feeling as we do of a life of thought…both are ways of knowing (10).
What particularly intrigues me about Maya Lin is how she has systematized the landscape. In particular, her 2006 work Blue Lake Pass (Lin, 28-32) not only feels familiar to me but offers me a model that I might be able to translate into silk. I had attempted to do just that in a few pieces going into AIB. It was frustrating because I had been dependent on the frame as support for the loose cloth.
However, this fall I found ways for the silk to self-support: with sewn boxes and whorls (spirals). I now have the means to convey sections of landscape by placing the whorls inside the boxes. Furthermore, I have the color of the silk to convey the way the light affects the land. I see a lot of possibilities with this: that I can expand the 3D further with hidden structures under the silk, that I can work in a range of sizes, that I can be as simple or complex as I want, that I can be very structural or lean in the direction of feeling.

Works cited

Lin, Maya, Systemic Landscapes, Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, 2006. Print.

Yi-Fu Tuan, Space and Place: the Perspectives of Experience (Minneapolis University of Minnesota Press), 1977. Print.

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