Not too long ago, struggling with my work more than usual, I wondered if and how to continue. Two things happened. First I tossed out the rulesand limitations I had set for myself 20 years ago and decided to experiment with different media. The recent development of powerful (but affordable) computers and software allowed me to try my hand at animation, almost the opposite of sculpture in every way. Secondly, to help me find my way again, I gathered images of my central influences and worked them in sketches and watercolors. Reviewing my artistic sources with renewed attention, I copied them, hoping to find clues to the work’s underlying spirit. What had attracted me to these images in the first place? I decided to simplify and isolate shapes. The starting point for “hairtoextraholly” was to morph other artists’ shapes into mine and back again. As if mimicking the emotional process of influence would point to the resolution of my artistic crisis.
As I worked on the animation, however, the new experience of composing a piece that developed over time overshadowed the original idea. I began to focus on animation’s unique qualities, such as rhythm and dynamics – qualities more frequently available to the arts of music and film than to sculpture.
Often my favorite part of a movie are the credits at the beginning. While they are staged to announce who is in the movie, credits create moving compositions of images and text that convey the atmosphere of the story to come, yet without relying on straightforward story telling. Given their inventive use of an abstract narrative, “credits” were ripe to become an art form in itself. Though I love the essential stillness of sculpture, I was happy because this gave me the opportunity to work on an idea which I held in waiting for many years. “hairtoextraholly” is my first completed work in that direction.
While I have noted the differences between digital animation and sculpture, “hairtoextraholly” is a continuation of my sculpture and painting. For instance my sculpture has always involved sequences – one element next to another element next to another. Many sculptures are structured like a narrative in space, without the specific content of a story. Foremost in my mind was that animation embody the tone, texture, grain, timbre of my work.