When I begin to create a space, I am most often working within a rectilinear framework. Within this space I seek to create an energized composition that is alive. The collective of forms in my work tend to rotate or circulate within the parameters of the canvas, much like plants and animals exist in their natural environments. Though my method of reaching this point is intuitive rather than cerebral, I can still look back at my process upon completion of a painting and follow the series of actions that produced the final result. I say this as it relates specifically to my work, however, I believe the core of this statement holds true to all art forms. All artists are working within a framework of some kind--be it a writer working within the construct of a narrative, utilizing the linear element of time and the form of language, or a musician working within the constructs of meter, verse, and the linear element of time.
What inspired me to write this today is a conversation I had with an architect this morning, whose work I admire very much. I realized as we discussed the ways in which we found my paintings and her architecture complementary to one another that we both approach the same "problem" of framing a space, but from opposite directions. The organic is her virtual canvas, and she infuses the straight lines into this space, where I start with the rectangle and infuse organic forms into that space. I thought it was interesting. I have included some images below that I feel best illustrate the ways in which she has integrated the free forms of nature with the rectilinear framework of a dwelling.
The overall form of the structure, the positioning of it, and the roofline in particular of this Grassland home collectively resonate with and mimic the rolling hillside behind it.
The reflection of the sky upon the metal roof mirrors and changes with the light of the actual sky above.
The infusion of natural light in a way that it seems to actually live and breathe within the framing of the interior space seems to be in perfect harmony with the way that the rectilinear structure exists in the natural site itself.
It is this harmony, this specific, intentional, and particular framing of space that makes a structure a work of art, versus a structure that exists only for utilitarian purposes. Similarly, these same qualities are what set apart an attractive textile or decorative canvas from a painting that transports us internally, causes as perceptual shift, or is somehow a catalyst for bringing to life something that was not there before.
It is a difficult and age old argument to make--the question of quality and the difference between art and object. And it is no doubt, one that is imperfect and filled with holes, but I know for certain that it is true. I personally, do not accept that art is nothing more than a simple matter of our perception. I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and it has inspired me to pick up an old favorite book of mine, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I last read it about fifteen years ago, but look forward to reading it again and hopefully coming away with something new this time around. After all, few things can alter our perception so powerfully as the passage of time, except for maybe...a fountain ;)
The images above depict the architecture of Studio B.N.A., a firm based out of Ocean Spring, MS. You can view more of their outstanding portfolio here: studio.BNA.com