Today I was in my studio and I took a step back for a moment. I wanted to get the bird’s eye view, the bigger picture so to speak, at least of my current art world.

As I looked over the pieces I’ve been working on, I was struck by how reflective they are. There is something calm, soothing about them. The colors are gentle, with the occasional surprise pop of brightness. Nothing too striking. The paper substrate shapes are indefinable and not finite. They are simultaneously not infinite, and not finite. Yet contained within each unnameable form, you find a window, a circular view to some natural world, some quiet escape.

For the last year, home has been everything to a lot of us. It’s not just where we sleep and eat, it’s where we work, exercise, play, learn, and even escape. With these pieces, I’ve opened a window to something outside of the four walls that contain us. I can smell the pine needles in Virginia, the foggy trail in the Apalacians. I can feel the density of forest air, layer upon layer of dead tree leaves, dirt, rain. Pops of color brighten the view, and tiny details bring you further into a meditative state.

I stood back and let myself think about where these pieces came from. I was inspired to try something new by my mentor, but the actual content of them is coming from somewhere else. I started to feel heavy, then, as I thought about the terrible suffering of the last year. And not even my own suffering. I have been lucky enough not to have lost anyone near and dear to me. But I have been on the fringes of those who have lost people to this terrible virus. The stories they tell are heart-wrenching. Still others have lost jobs, business, opportunities. I’ve lost ⅓ of my income. Many of my friends and colleagues are unemployed or underemployed. There is so much uncertainty.

And then there’s nature, and how it keeps marching on, in spite of our suffering. The sun rises and sets, the birds go about chirping and swooping, the squirrels still play chicken in the street. Flowers bloom, plants grow and whither; life just keeps going on. Stars shine and the moon continues to materialize in the sky as if from nothing. Nature has been a major source of comfort to me because of this continuous prodding on. It keeps moving forward, without giving a thought to this pandemic. There is something soothing in that indefatigable march.

I notice, too, as I look around at each piece, that there is a language forming here, symbols, color, and form. Something celestial, perhaps. In this one, you can imagine a crop circle communicating some mystery. If you gaze long enough you almost understand the message, it whispers. In that one, the suspension itself is suggestive of outer space. Zero gravity, a weightlessness that lifts all pressure from the form.

And so I look at these pieces that are gentle, thoughtful, celestial, and weightless, and I realize that I gravitated towards this because it was necessary at this moment. Hopefully people can look at this work and feel a sense of calm and escape at a time when many are fraught with sadness, uncertainty, and captivity.

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