I have been looking for a quote, the spirit of which lingers in my mind– something to the effect of: “There are many times I have preferred the sound of birds over the sound of the human voice.” In any case, as I prepare for my show “Biographic” at G.Gibson Gallery in May, I have been thinking about what I like to listen to. Boy do I like people. But, as a city dweller in the pocket internet age, I get a lot of human voice without even trying. It jams the circuits, and it only goes so far. It circles the same spots in my brain. It makes ruts. The question I have been asking while making this new work is: “What does life write when it writes about itself? How does life draw when it draws itself?” As a human who has inherited visual language developed over thousands of years, I illustrate from a particular dialect. Drawings that have looked at other drawings, lines that have eaten up gestural painting and comic books, scientific identification and cursive and calligraphy. But there is another set of graphics that are innate, and they come from living inside a body built of patterns that I share with a broader family than the human one. While working on the drawing above, I wanted to know if calcium had a tendency to grow in florets. I didn’t find anything that pointed to that specific query, but I ended up on botanical sites (thank you pocket internet) that described various flower growth patterns. On this one, I found out that there is a classification of growth patterns called ligulate, the root word of which is ligula, or small tongue. I love this. From Encyclopedia Brittanica:
Ligulate flowers superficially resemble the ray flowers of radiate heads in having a corolla that is tubular at the base and prolonged on the outer side into a flat, strap-shaped ligule. They differ from ray flowers in that they are perfect (bisexual) and the ligule consists of all five lobes of the corolla and generally shows five terminal teeth. The dandelion is a familiar plant with ligulate heads.
The growth pattern happens to look like what I was drawing, at least in one iteration. I have also been drawing inspiration from diatoms and other shapes found in pond water, from incidental marks made by plants and animals… anything that speaks as if with small tongues.