Still Life Statement
Place is an important influence on the artist, and what he creates. In this series of work I am using still life to talk about the place I live and work. I am choosing fruits, vegetables, and flowers that are grown locally and objects that I have a passion for; vintage pottery and beautiful weavings from Mexico. These are a part of the culture; music, songs, religion, food, and strong family traditions, here in New Mexico and the Southwest. Because the objects chosen for still life are objects used in domestic life, still life has become known as the domain of the female artist.
Still life based on the place I live and work.
These objects have the possibility to recall memory both for the artist and for the viewer. It is here the dialog can begin between the work and the viewer. The artist is inviting the viewer to share the vision thus a visual language, a communication without words.
Objects in the still life have the possibility to recall memory for the artist and for the viewer.
To enter into that place of stillness, is to be absence of sound or noise: hush, noiselessness, quiet, quietness, silence, soundlessness, stillness. For the artist, it is to become calm and focused. The still life is about the act of seeing. Though the artist is using and creating symbols that refer to the material world, what is seen in the final work is really about the way the artist sees.
Still life is a place of stillness.
To reposition an object in space creates new conditions of light. If one object is taken away or moved all things are changed; form, color harmony, relationships space and time. The artist Morandi regarded still life painting as a way of transcending time, of confronting "inert objects" of mediation upon their "inherent beauty and spending an eternity in placid contemplation."
Still life can transcend time.
To paint a still life, is to experience and record time. The objects are set upon the table and even if the objects are artificially lighted, there is constant change happening. As the sun moves through the sky during the day, the light coming through the studio window lights the different parts of the still life and the objects in the still life cast shadows; light and shadows are in constant flux.
Still life is an experience and a record of time.
To paint from the still life is different than taking a picture of the still life, with a camera. When we take a picture of the still life, we are capturing the moment and only that moment. When the artist paints the still life, he is actually capturing a series of moments. An area or part of the still life appears to be lit up, because of the changing light. The artist begins work on that part of the canvas, the next time the artist looks at the still life, another part of the still life seems to be lit up, he may move to that area of the canvas to work on this most beautiful and bright area. It takes time to create a still life, the artist sees and makes adjustments based on this constant change of light.
Still life is to capture a series of moments.
Still Life Series, based on the sense of place, and that place is New Mexico. When we talk about place, It is a combination of characteristics that makes a place special and unique. Sense of place involves the human experience in a landscape, the local knowledge and folklore. Sense of place also grows from identifying oneself in relation to a particular piece of land on the surface of planet earth.
Places that exhibit a strong sense of place have an identity and character recognized immediately by a visitor and valued deeply by residents. New Mexico is such a place, with long history and traditions of family that go years back. Northern New Mexico is known for it's old churches, which help to keep the traditions over time. The oldest church in the US is here in Santa Fe, and the oldest house is also in Santa Fe. It is a land so beautiful, it is known as the "land of enchantment."
Wendell Berry famously said, "If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are." And for those of us who make our homes in New Mexico, we are a part of the land, the mountains, the sky, we know who we are and why we are here.
Wallace Stegner interprets that as "... talking about the knowledge of place that comes from working in it in all weathers, making a living from it, suffering from its catastrophes, loving its mornings or evenings or hot noons, valuing it for the profound investment of labor and feeling that you, your parents and grandparents, your all-but-unknown ancestors have put into it. He is talking about the knowing that poets specialize in." Hands smooth the adobe each year, people clean the acequicas together, so much of New Mexico is done in community.
Kent Rydon "A sense of place results gradually and unconsciously from inhabiting a landscape over time, becoming familiar with its physical properties, accruing history with its confines."
Robert Frost "The land was ours before we were the land's."
J.B. Jackson "It is place, permanent position in both the social and topographical sense, that gives us our identity."
I am looking at this place, New Mexico, that I now call home. Through the pottery and the weavings of Mexico, that has a strong influence of place over this land.