It always bothers me when I notice that my perspective has been warped by the shape of my surroundings, by changing light. I noticed this first in churches and theaters—buildings that draw gaze almost toward a vanishing point, but really toward a captivating performance. The front of a church or theater—its outward face—becomes the back once inside, though your gaze hasn’t changed; it’s been given a trajectory, directed as if on a course.
When I studied blood flow, I became fascinated by how clotting evolved in many different lineages. How our cells hold potential for migration, for arduous journey. To migrate toward a wound, a cell has to behave like two people in a canoe, polarizing so that molecular activity at the back and front is different. The front moves toward. The back moves to allow the front’s towardness, contracting, suppressing, detaching, and the cell migrates toward distress.
The toward is always in the away, the away in the toward. Once I ran away from a terrible decision, and my dad said, “Sometimes the spirit moves you,” and that was that.
When I say “back,” I think “dorsal,” and of the live fish we dissected in 9th grade to watch its heart beat—something of ancestor heart there—and how I wanted to stop a million times and didn’t. The performance of cruelty always feels easy, impressive, and on a trajectory that must be finished. I think of that fish all the time when I think it’s weak to be compassionate, when I’m shaken, when I need to run away or toward.
Materials: Ink, Sharpie, pastels
I miss it every year – I expect all the trees to turn at once so I wait to look. Wait to say this is autumn.
My silver maples are green, but the rest of my street is gold or flames. Yet, I’m still waiting. I looked it up, did you know butterfly wings dont have the same pattern front and back? In the 2-D of a leaf drawing we never profile the leather and ribs of the back. When I used to identify pollen in lake samples I could focus on the grain’s top, middle, bottom to see 3-D in segments. Almost like analog animation.
But it is hard to hold a 3-D object in mind, the front and back pattern of a butterfly wing, the collective red, yellow, orange of fall that moves like a slow river through the neighborhood, the river bluffs, the forests on top of glacial moraines, the flat sand plains and into November.
Medium: Tracing paper, glue stick, crayon, leaves