"Queen Sheet," It the first piece of the "Abstracted Narrative," series. The work started with a joke in my head about what were the two things I missed since having kids. The answer was sleep and making art. So I decided to sleep on top of Kozo Paper, which I placed under my mattress pad and cover. Allowing chance into the work, the paper we slept on became a map for the movement of our bodies as it became creased and torn. Bringing the paper back into my studio, I brought intention into the work by transforming the paper into a large scale collage, which was built on a one-to-one scale of my Queen Sized bed.
Never having made a collage this large before, there were some technical difficulties I had to problem solve (which any quilter would already know!) To begin, I discovered I had to make the squares a half inch bigger so they could overlap a quarter inch on either side and meet up evenly. Quilters call this a seam allowance. I also realized after experimenting with various glues, that a soft matte gel provided the strongest bond (which I weigh down with a slab of concrete until it's set). This helped with keeping the grid square, the pieces flush and allowing for a free hanging surface, instead of having to restrain it by a canvas or panel. I want the piece to retain the fluidity of a bed sheet.
Other things I have discovered is that the paper is semi-translucent allowing for the play of natural light behind it. Before I had begun this piece I had been wondering what it would look like if they were illuminated, and I was pleased to see it added another element of life to them. By looking at the squares backlit, one notices that the creases, folds and layering of the paper create an illusion of mountainscapes.
Because of the landscape association, I decided that the orientation of the piece should be vertical (80" x 60"). The reason for this is to move away from a Western reading of a landscape which relies on a horizontal format that is created using either linear or, atmospheric perspective. Instead, I have chosen to reference Asian Paintings and scrolls, whose understanding of their surroundings is seen in a stacked perspective. Specifically, in Chinese Painting objects are placed one above another (higher on the picture plane) with some overlap, in order to to give an illusion of distance and space. When I think of these dual readings of space, and how different cultures have divergent interpretations, it makes me think of a zen saying which I once heard:
Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters; after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters.
Other concepts I have been uncovering are that the repetition and structure of my process which are providing some ease and space in my life. I realize this is my form of mediation that helps me deal with the anxiety which has rapidly risen upon having become a parent of two young children. As I find those moments of peace in my studio I am asking myself during chaotic moments of parenting: can I be with this too? Can Structure replace chaos with ease? Can repetition be something that provides consistency instead of boredom?
Another insight I had was the fact that I have created yet another laborious task, much like the ones in my domestic life. The purpose of that is to find the spiritual in the mundane. Although I may not always feel that when I am changing, folding, or stacking the bed sheets, it sure does when I am in the studio performing some of those same tasks. It seems to me then that I will only be able to truly merge motherhood with art when I can find spirituality in the every day tasks of parenting.