My Career as an Artist

Giclee prints on Somerset 300 GSM paper

from the “Silk Fabric Series” and the series, “End of Summer”. 2016 and 2017.

My career as an artist was declared to my parents when I was six. Certainty was a feature of my announcement, and I proceeded to work towards my goal. Best guess was that I would paint landscapes, and this intention was literally acted upon until I discovered the work of Mark Rothko in a catalog years later in the Keene, New Hampshire Public Library. I paid a fine for having an overdue book for years, refusing to return it, until I was allowed to buy it.

I could have discovered Richard Diebenkorn, or Mondrian, Jules Olitski or Morris Louis, but Rothko stuck, so to speak. In it was enough to occupy a lifetime of discovery, like reading a great book and then discovering another. I copied my idols as best I could, learning early that you adopt fragments and they become part of you, and others are let go of (bad grammar), like dropping the hand that walks you safely across the street.

I looked at the work of these people and found that in the critics’ analysis as implied were the very things that made this work meaningful to me. Abstraction was not devoid of realistic content, and a flat surface derived through reduced color values was not a necessary part of abstraction.

I wanted deep space, but I didn’t want to portray specific space. Clouds, patterns washed into the sand, riverbeds eaten into deep valleys. Space, for me is a geological phenomenon: movement, texture, erosion, time travel from surface into a black hole. Depth can vary, but contact with the surface establishes a place for the viewer to stand. That space, between the viewer and the picture plane is part of the work: active, engaged, defining.

I have looked for ways to establish deep space, and within this space I have tried to find a place: land, sea, sky. This small show is composed of silk scarves: layered, projecting from beneath another, submerged, turning and twisting. They have been lighted, rotated, cropped and extended, and important to me, photographed with the small camera in my cell phone. They have then been printed, copied onto paper that more suits the image and cropped to focus on its visual core.

Joan R. Brownstein