An ever-shifting stream embodies a response to internal and external changes, and the means to confront them, by weaving images, poems and stanzas that unfold through a path of twelve stages. The number twelve carries symbolic importance in a number of religious, mythological and mystical traditions, as it represents completeness and perfection, thus confirming their closeness to the circle, this form which reflects the method of transformation with its endless sphere. The paintings embody different aspects of transformation through the manifestation of ideas through abstract formations and through the living action of the physical production itself. Line, shape and color also represent a kind of meta-language, through which concepts and energies can be explored. And just as transformation happens in its own way and in its own time, the formation of these patterns and forms is an act of evolution and intuition.
Image and word music
Laura Johanna Braverman writes in the introduction to her exhibition: I remember reading a book about North Indian art, where certain pictures or symbols are painted over and over through the generations and the paintings differ according to the hand that holds the brush and the state of the artist – mental, physical, emotional and spiritual – which greatly guided the hand on that day. Here appeared a picture of a common bond in a creative circle that brings together the artist, the hand and the work. It is not the spirit of the artist alone that drives the hand that paints the painting, and therefore drives the work. The work also drives the body and soul of the artist.
About a decade ago, I spent several years working on a book. Its subject matter was multifaceted, ranging from the very specific to the historical, but as chapters and revisions piled up, my health declined. Even with other factors contributing to this decline, the project certainly didn’t help. As my condition worsened, I felt I had to make the difficult choice to shelve the project, despite my attachment to completion and to this work and the many hours I spent on it. I needed my health back, and somehow I realized that immersion in painting was the ultimate medicine.
I drew in parallel with my writing, so that the work on drawings and paintings was my constant companion from my childhood, through high school, to my undergraduate years in the College of Art and Design, to my career as a designer. But when I returned to the studio after the birth of my first child, I found myself drawn to exploring a new visual language. My art has always been figurative, but it was at this point that I began to discover an abstract geography of color and form, with a stylized stillness of the unspoken.
I searched for a cure, making daily pilgrimages to my studio, confident in the work itself. The geometric shapes and colors sank into the silence, creating a kind of music, perhaps inaudible, but rich in rhythm and vibrations. The images came to me in dreams, or in response to the pieces I was working on, as each painting generates new ideas. I drew sketches and took notes to keep up the pace. Sometimes I saw certain color combinations in a book or a photograph, in the peeling paint of an old house, or in adjacent patches of fabric. In the midst of this stream of work, a memory from long ago suddenly came alive: a memory of a trip to an art museum in Los Angeles when I was fifteen. I remembered the shadowy and colorful paintings, and the feeling that they were aiming for something invisible. Searching the exhibition catalog, I finally came across a used copy for sale: On the Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985. The pages were filled with the creative visions of Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Hilma af Klint, Kazimir Malevich, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and more. Many, their explorations fueled and influenced my own.
Transformation works in subtle ways, and it is like mercury that it is impossible to contain in one definition. This is how the drawing process showed me one of its facets. My health gradually became more balanced with patience, help and support from others. I continued to paint, and also eventually realized that the writing I really wanted to pursue was in the realm of poetry. It was long before I gave myself permission to tell myself that poetry was not ‘practical’, or that it was too difficult to pursue, but I couldn’t get away from it.
The words of the poems and the motifs of the paintings each have their own language, and while we hear the music of the poem, we see it in the painting. Returning to the idea of the creative cycle, a state of mind, spiritual and existential drives my hand, my hand shapes the work, and the work in turn shapes me. It is my hope that these paintings will in turn speak to the person who sees and experiences them and spark a flicker of recognition or possibility, just as the reader brings his own reality to each poem he reads, so do the spectator to every painting he sees.
Perhaps one could say that we have all been suffering from a debilitating disease in varying degrees over the past few years, both in the country and the world. How does one face the disease? Everyone’s answer will be different. Some will work on external changes and others on internal, or perhaps a combination of the two. Among other things, drawing and writing were two channels through which she attempted to confront the turmoil and pain of collective illness. Perhaps we can draw inspiration from an alchemy which, unless abused, constantly strives for evolution, be it gold, tangible or metaphorical, and whose ancient practitioners swore to turn any results within their reach for the benefit of all exploited