THE CHAIR – Painting as Transmission of Information


In this work I was exploring the most basic of motives of painting. I imagined communicating the essence of a fundamental human invention – the chair – to something intelligent but not necessarily human. As if I were to describe a chair to a being from a world without gravity.

Chair is a work about form, texture and communication. I had in mind to express some facts about a chair to an intelligent being (perhaps extraterrestrial) who had no experience, knowledge or need for a chair. It is more about the purpose of Painting than the thing known as “chair”.




Tchaikovsky is said to have disliked some of his most notable works. I think this speaks to the notion of artist not so much a creator than a conduit. Likewise in my piece, The Annunciation, I have felt more a conduit than creator. In the two years since I began work on it I have mostly followed clues offered by an evolving image. Truthfully, I am somewhat embarrassed by this naked expression of purity. Not so much by the nakedness as by the purity. Ultimately, it is about motherhood. Which makes chronological sense to me personally because my mother died a little more than two years ago and my unconscious mind has been busy reconciling our relationship.

The fruits of artwork are often divided between what is revealed to the artist and what is expressed to the viewers. Revelations are most meaningful for the artist in terms of self elucidation and the resulting reconciliation with one’s true self. For us to move forward we must first know where we are and to acknowledge from whence we came. So I return to my mother.

A Lutheran at birth, she converted to Episcopalian when married. We were raised in that church. However the truth is never that simple. My siblings and I all acknowledge a chaste and saintly nanny as the one who nurtured us as our mother played golf. Did I mention reconciliation?

Life cannot be understood without an appreciation if not acceptance of mystery. At the annunciation the Angel Gabriel communicates a biological impossibility to the Virgin Mary. In nearly all the paintings called Annunciation the depiction is of two entities, one communicating the other listening. As you can see, my painting contains only one figure. Hopefully, she is giving a message to a viewer. This work aspires to becomes a dialog - perhaps a sacred dialog.

The two entities become the viewer and the viewed.





I think most of us become artists by way of a search for meaning. There is not much I wish to say about my piece. In fact, I suspect the more I say about it the less chance it has of giving meaning to others.
However, I have come to some observations about this straw ball in the course of exhibiting it in different venues. For instance, when it is exhibited in an art gallery it tends to be viewed as art, whereas when I have displayed in a tree it tends to be seen as a great nest of some kind.

To me, it comes back to meaning, and specifically, meaning through relationship. In other words, How do I relate to this straw ball in size, location, texture and shape? But perhaps more interestingly, how does this straw ball relate to, or, meet, my Expectations?

How much of our lives are lived in a fog of expectation? How much of what we see do we see because we expect to see it? And, how often does something we see defy our expectations. whether we like it or not, we are defined by expectations. We are limited or expanded by what other people expect of us, but more profoundly, we are limited, expanded and ultimately defined by.... what we expect of ourselves.

So being confronted with something unexpected can be of value. It has the chance of meaning something to us.  But we need to try to resistthe urge to define the unexpected and instead cherish it.
Life for adult humans is full of the expected, the defined, the known.

We are all so knowledgeable. And yet the very little we truly know we know through relationship. Nothing stands alone, or in this case, hangs alone.  So if when you walked into this gallery, you saw something you did not expect – cherish it – it has meaning for you.