Sunday, October 11, 2009

Line Economy, and Leonie Guyer

I've been thinking a lot about image making lately. Being in this program at PSU where half the students are working under the umbrella of Social Practice, where the other half are in Studio Practice, I have wondered a lot about the line that divides one from the other. One of the MOST refreshing things about the program is that the line is not given a tremendous amount of importance, and students from both sides seem to take on elements of both.

But long before I entered into this program, I wondered about my role as an artist that produces "things". Some artists perform, some make digital work that can be contained in a tiny chip, etc. But I continue to feel compelled to make actual objects. I wouldn't say I do so completely confidently, but I have, over the past 2 years, started to find ways to reconcile this insecurity in a world, and a personal sphere, that has plenty of stuff in it as it is. I have begun drawing on paper. I have begun to be super economical with my picture plane and my mark making. Less is more. This feels like a more natural way of working for me.

This past Monday, Leonie Guyer was our visiting artist, and she did address some of these issues in her lecture, and during our post-lecture visit with her. Leonie does mostly installation/site responsive drawings these days. Her forms are abstract, and I would say that one of her most powerful tools is negative space. These tiny little forms that she draws on vast white walls are sometimes indiscernible upon first glance.  She spoke of working reductively as being a panic attack of constantly asking herself "Is this enough?". She sees this as a response to living in a culture in which things of value are always BIGGER and MORE. As she put it, "It takes courage to do less".

This resonated with me, but had me wondering how the same sentiment might apply to working more representationally. Is it more forgivable for Leonie's abstract, unearthly shapes to be floating in vast space because as it is, they are not recognizable forms that our brain wants to put into a particular space anyway? What happens when I draw recognizable images that are in this vast space, where the viewer's brain DOES immediately have a place it wants to put the form, and yet the place is not all there?

I am working on some of my most stark work yet, perhaps as an experiment in this very question. [I am unable to post any of it here, Dear Reader, until I find the USB cord for my digitial camera. My apologies, as I know this would be much more interesting with visuals]. I am eager, if not a bit trepidatious, to hear how my classmates and professors respond to it. I have thought about the power of negative space, and my own economy of line for some years now, but perhaps it will not ever feel completely resolved. Perhaps there are just separate schools of thought, and I have to concede that you "can't please everybody". But if there is more work to be done to hone this sort of practice, I'm very willing to listen. 

Michelle Blade

Josh Keyes

Felix Gonzalez-Torres

1 comment:

  1. That FGT work is one of my all-time favourites.