A Year in the Life

This project consists of a series of small installations and paintings created over this past year, a year in which I changed everything: my life, my job, my long-term relationship and my abode. I have always been fascinated by gesture, my own and others’. I aimed to explore and possibly subvert assumptions about life/office nexus. Using post-it’s, embossed envelopes, bills, business cards copying paper and an HB catalogue I no longer needed, I both used and divested myself of the workplace trappings. And I asked, what were the use-values of these products that denote productivity and human industry?

In one of my works, HB Catalogue, I have attempted my personal “greening” bringing in nature into the unnatural environment of office. (For the past sixteen years, I have lived within ten minutes of Walt Whitman’s birthplace, often walking on trails where Walt may very well have walked.)

At the time, I had no studio space except my bedroom, which can best be described as a confined space. Nevertheless, there was room enough for gesture and for the creational impulse, which to use Bergson ‘s phrase, I consider the elan vital and a visual DNA of sorts. Sometimes I worked while sitting in bed (arguably, my bed became temporally, my “studio”). I then cast about the constituent parts of each installation onto the floor in a partially random partially composed/arranged/arrayed fashion.

I had never been a post-it’s kind of person. Stacks of them lay about, languishing in my drawer, as it were. But now they had a life of their own, liberated from their sticky source.And, although I never studied calligraphy, I believe the brush strokes correspond to Asian scholar/poets’ calligraphic renderings although that was not my specific “intention” at the time. In short, I did not feel confined by the small area of each individual post-its. As to the lunch bags, although I never managed to make a brown bag lunch for myself nor anyone else despite the seemingly omnipresence of a stack of brown bags in my house, visually dogging me for a number of years as I moved them around in an attempt to hide them and thus allay my guilt at my utter lack of domesticity, what better use can I have made of these pesky objects? Nay, now I revel in them, in my gloss on the text.

This project also may have germinated while I revisited T.S. Elliot’s groundbreaking poem, “The Wasteland,” a copy of which I acquired while embarking upon this project. Having studied it in college, certain lines resonated, specifically his importuning (in capital letters), “HURRY UP IT’S TIME” as well as the line, “I measure my life in coffee spoons.” I kept wanting to change the phrase “coffee spoons” to coffee cups, as I had become fascinated with the trace curve line formation made by a coffee cup left on a table or surface. I began to replicate this symbol of daily office life with my own gesture. This evolved into series of color studies which I call coffee cup color studies. These are memory incanabula, if you will. And, it may well be that this project does not have completion, that I, too measure my life if not in coffee cups or in spoons then in more normal means of human commerce, human social interaction, interchange.