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