Inheritance

Inheritance explores the Sublime through the inheritance of tools both real and metaphorical. The Sublime is a visual-spiritual experience with roots in 19th century Romanticism that refers to “experiences of awe, terror, boundlessness, and divinity.” This experience is not entirely safe. We are helpless in the face of vastness beyond comprehension.
The impetus for this work came in the aftermath of my father’s death and the struggle to make sense of what was passed along to me. On a physical level, I inherited his woodworking tools, including old-fashioned hand planes and saws. Some are physically stained from his hands, and all of them hold a significance that transcends what they physically are. They are simultaneously a treasured gift and uncomfortable burden. Not being particularly skilled in woodworking, I endeavored to find a way to use the tools for photographic image making. It turns out, they are perfect for photograms, a technique that goes back to the beginning of photography. Physical objects are arranged on a light sensitive material (usually paper) and the composition is exposed to light. The shadows cast by the objects create the light shapes while the dark shapes are formed by direct exposure to the light source.
The hard, machined edges of the hand planes create distinct, somewhat aggressive black shapes. While it’s difficult to discern whether they are positive or negative space, it’s clear they are shaped by something manufactured, even though the form of the originating object is completely lost. So not only is the original use of the hand plane subverted, so too is its form. The black shapes in the images reference an event horizon, the outer boundary of a Black Hole, beyond which light cannot escape. The collapsed star is still there, but is unknowable, just as the deceased have entered a realm the living cannot understand, but are still felt. The voids float within neutral earth tones, a textural murk that references our body’s cells, bones, and skin. Each image is assembled from smaller pieces into a larger whole, much like the accumulation of individual events into the memories and experiences that make up a life. The images are not properly “fixed,” so remain sensitive to light. They will change over time, mirroring the way memories and experience shift and evolve. In front of these images, there is room for quiet meditation and reflection, an opportunity to safely confront the traumas of existence.

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