“the substantial words are in the ground and sea…”
- Walt Whitman
I am a constant reader.*
What happens when we read? We can become fully engaged, inspired, enraged, moved or so thoroughly intrigued that hours pass deep inside our books. Yet, we are physically inert. Reading text as a conventional linear dispersal of information seems to be an act altogether dissociated from our bodies.
We are continually, though too often unconsciously, reading in countless other ways: facial expressions, body language, textures and scents, as well as emotional, climatic and atmospheric charges. Our responses to these incessant, nuanced readings are vital to our movement through our lives; indeed, to our very survival. Without our capacity for sensory readings, I suspect we would have developed neither the means to write nor to engage with writing.
Why, then, do we privilege and exalt only the knowledge acquired through written or spoken language? When we willfully trivialize our sensory and intuitive intelligences, we also detach from all but the most superficial aspects of our environment.
I am nearly deaf. When I communicate with someone verbally, I hear with my eyes; I strive to read lips while simultaneously observing unspoken nuances to provide context, which also reveals subtexts. Being alone in nature is my constant refuge and a lifelong source of fascination. Away from the obligation to process spoken words, I am free to interpret my environment in the same multifaceted, minute ways I comprehend speech, and to become as absorbed as I do when I’m reading the most compelling novel or provocative essay.
In my work, I imply narratives authored by our beleaguered planet, set forth in a language long overlooked by humanity’s intellectual arrogance. I perceive this as a language of dichotomy, of adaptation, of infinite cyclical renewal, of double-edged humor, of fierce, disturbing beauty and always, of the ultimate triumph of time.
My medium of choice is paper made from fibers I process and sometimes harvest myself. I work with handmade paper specifically for its minimal environmental impact, its utter versatility, its enormous variety and for its deceptive strength contrasted with its perceived fragility. Made from plants, it is a material derived directly from my conceptual catalysts, involving me physically as well as metaphorically in the perpetual cycles that intrigue me.
* I bear no other resemblance to Dorothy Parker