Peace is the state of distinctness without domination, with the distinct participating in each other. Theodor W. Adorno
Artist Statement 2015
During the past decade and a half, I have been creating artwork influenced by conflict around the world, examining the hazy and changing boundary between victim and perpetrator. Delving deep into a world foreign to most of us has meant interviewing victims, documenting incidences of gross inhumanity, coming face to face with indescribable horrors and degradations.
Even acknowledging acts of extreme brutality imposes an emotional toll, and artists are no exception to this exactment: balance and perspective are hard to achieve. Four years ago, perhaps in a moment of self preservation, I experienced a reoccurring dream. In a timeless atmosphere, I am walking through a forest of hanging bells. As darkness falls, the mute forest comes alive with sound, images, and smell. The bells, suspended on strings of vibrant sensual colour, both excite and comfort me as I walk along the pathways. With each consecutive nightly dream, more senses came into play until, in the final set, motion, colour, sound, and smell were not only vivid but in harmony.
This amazing set of dreams compelled me to create a new series of work – installations that imbue harmony as well as a balance to the emotional investment needed to create art that is also social commentary. The research and development of the first ideas took place in an arts residency in India, incorporating new materials of string, dye, and bells. Historically, the materials I have chosen come with an element of identity and cultural significance. In this instance in India, bells became similarly resonant. Bell making is a dying art – an example of India’s move to globalization and urban living. In the land of Gandhi cotton, the string is becoming a rarity. Only the fabric pigments (dyes) seem to be safe from extinction, with each colour, in true India fashion, more vibrant than the last – royal colours, holy colours, the colours of weddings and funerals. There is a colour here for every occasion and desire.
Over the last four years, two themes have emerged in parallel projects. One is a continuation of my past work on the victim and/or victimizer and of the “us and them” divide. The second theme in 2D (on wood panels) and 3D works is more ephemeral and has a less direct narrative, with concerns of tension, balance, and harmony. In today’s world of extremes and polarizations, of growing distrust in institutions and politics it makes complete sense to me that my own need for balance emerges in my artwork to echo the discord that surrounds us and the harmony we dream of.
The common thread to both impulses is the invitation to interact. The materials themselves are compulsive, given their histories and richness. In the works' structure they take on a new significance, having been transposed from functional material object to visual metaphor. These works then become permeated with resonant layers, speaking to not only the nature of materiality but our presumptions about the limits of materiality.
The “distinct,” then, is in “participating in each other.”