pinning a wave to the shore

Rikuo Ueda
Rikuo Ueda wind drawing

Rikuo Ueda came to Ball State, where I studied art in undergrad, and imprinted on my memory. He held a tea ceremony in a specially designed tea house outside the architecture building. He attached pen refills to the ends of branches and let the wind make drawings. “His works are a form of what has basically no form,” translates google from German in exhibition notes from a gallery in Hamburg that once showed his work.

I just ran across Los Angeles artist Sam Falls, who tracks slow, natural processes a different way– by placing a 2 x 4 or other object onto a piece of fabric and letting the elements (sun, rain, even rodents) do their work to transform the fabric into a record of time.

Sam Falls (OHWOW Los Angeles)

Trained as a photographer, it’s interesting that Falls’ pieces are like sun-prints– the most rudimentary form of photography. It is, like Ueda’s work, resonant with me, this tracking of natural processes.

I recently was looking at the process blog of an old friend, Susan Conaway, who is an extraordinarily thoughtful quilter who takes cues from all sorts of structures that she culls from the woods and water that surround her house.

Susan Conaway/pond/leaf/fabric collaboration

She writes:

Two oak leaves wrapped in cotton and left in the pond for about 7 weeks. It is my most successful act of patience and fabric to date. The darkest areas are the marks of sediment settled directly onto the fabric. The oak leaves rolled around themselves and the fabric made a repeat of vertebrae – a spine stretched out. The pond as dye pot made this – all the little life that lives there making an impression, with the help of a couple of oak leaves.

The whole spine

Other artists who have played with these slow revelations of time:

Dennis Oppenheim

Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rain Shadow”:

John Grade‘s “Collector”:

Sandy Geliss is an artist who worked with printer Julia D’Amario at the Sitka Center where I recently worked as a resident. She placed birdseed on etching plates that had been coated with soft ground. The beak and claw marks of the birds made the scratches that became the etching, and they were extraordinarily beautiful. I can’t find images of these online (I will keep trying!).

Over against the push of days is the rush of silence and the tragic idling of it. In the palm is a stone and the grass is a vast fast wrinkling of eras. Inside the hours are clicks and moans. Under them are sturdy chairs. The leaf is a page and the air is a whirring hush and the cars are waves and the sun plays a warm cloud around the face.


7 thoughts on “pinning a wave to the shore”

  1. This is SO lovely! It reminds me how we spoke of your work requiring a kind of focus now, to accomplish much in narrow whisps of time, due to the responsibilities of life…
    Work that requires patience can give meaning to the whisps; many whisps pushed together, creating something beautiful.

  2. Great to see Sam’s work– he and I went to college together and graduated from the same tiny little art department the same year! I had no idea what he’d been up to this past handful of years, thanks for prompting me to check up.

    1. you’re kidding me! how great and small-world. i came across his work on a list of “young artists to watch” from modern painters magazine. his was my favorite work of all 100, at least in a quick peruse…

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