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Passages

"Out of the cradle endlessly rocking .." Walt Whitman

Months after the death of one of my fraternal twin brothers, a colleague traveled from his native Japan to visit the pond where my brother's ashes had been scattered. I was deeply moved to know of the pilgrimage and the distance traveled to fulfill it.

Although I have never made the journey, I felt drawn to evoke the essence of a place ringed with reeds, circled by hills; a place of mystery, ultimately unknowable. In my imagination it is touched by the same quiet beauty of the woods, hills and streams I loved as a child. Through the ceremonial act of making images, I found a way to celebrate memories from childhood of being alone in the natural world, of my brotherís continuing presence in my life, and of the wonder of life itself.

Whitman's poetic voice, anchored in the powerful claim of childhood memories, celebrates the elemental forces of the natural world. His moving image, etched in my psyche, sings of our existential bond with nature. The drawings in the suite "Passages" are reveries, visual responses to memories of places that call forth the fragile balance of the finite and the infinite, the physical and the metaphysical.

To make these drawings, I covered a spacious work table with containers of graphite dust, powdered pigments and a ritualistically arranged array of pastels, pencils, erasers; a collection to which I added weekly. The assortment of materials grew and I began to think of the surface I worked on, now alive with many shades and hues of black, white and grey, as a visual field in which the drawings resided and from which they materialized. Symbolic hues, subtle and ephemeral, emerged. I felt a sense of resonance between my work space and the darkened interior of an ancient apothecaryís shop filled with jars and potions.

The surface of the paper felt held in suspension. Moment to moment additions of dust, powder, grit, ground pigments, dry and wet, formed enigmatic shapes, textures and spatial illusions. Like the dust of life carried by the wind, the pigments dissolved and disintegrated. Spontaneous erasures quietly reverberated with metaphorical possibilities. As I worked I thought of Turnerís paintings and the wonderfully articulate and ambiguous spaciousness contained within them. I thought of the pond I had never seen as it might be experienced by visitations from wind, rain, stars, invisible by day, luminous by night and the passage of time. I thought of the moment when a loving hand held fast my brotherís ashes, the last physical evidence of a lifetime of shared stories, before the wind claimed the offering.

Drawn back in time by the claims of memory, a child once again, I stood wordless with wonder on the edge of an abyss before a great tree uprooted from the earth by a storm. In rare moments when we find our inner being mirrored in the outer world, we feel, and we are, blessed.