|"Let f = F", Gesso on Roofing Felt, 72" x 36", © 2015|
In 1982 the third year faculty at the Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, DC) became aware of my job experience as a sign maker. Since then there has been a push to incorporate text into my artwork. I became very self-conscious about it…what to say? In those days I took the sign influence into the direction of graffiti.
|Washington, DC, Dupont Circle 1984 Photo Richard K. Thomas|
As part of a retrospective exhibit in the early 2000’s I painted individual words in a frieze section of the gallery. The selection of words was rife with meaning and hanging my large scale abstract paintings below them created interesting contexts.
|Installation View, "Excerpts", Lees-McRae College, Banner Elk, NC 2007|
But text was not integrated into the imagery.
My struggle was with words themselves. They’re so descriptive that they guide viewers thinking, perception and meaning. I've had no problem with this as far as titles go. But actually using them in the artwork has continued to make me feel self-conscious. I’ve tried to use text as texture by burying them under layers of paint but without success.
Now it seems that the use of geometric shapes demands these equations to emphasize the depth of the subject. The math is specific without being literal. It’s an abstract language.
|"Untitled Hypar", Gesso and graphite on primed matboard, © 2015 Collection Steve Nyland|
As such, I enjoy incorporating it freely into these recent artworks. Many formulas are too long to use but sections are fun to place into these compositions. The complexity makes for rich content.
|Underpainting, Gesso on Roofing Felt, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FCVWpCgt1w|
Using algebraic formulas touches on some difficult areas for me. Algebra was incomprehensible when I was a high school freshman. The basic concept of letters equaling “any number” was beyond me. My dad taught math and science and worked with me to get a handle on it. In spite of his tutoring it didn’t connect and was very frustrating!
I revisit these memories often as I continue this series of artwork. It’s uncomfortable. Algebra was my great academic melt down. (Let’s not talk about Speech class.)