M A Y S E Y C R A D D O C K
For the past ten years, I have been drawn to architectural ruin as a visual exploration of themes of impermanence, mortality, memory and entropy. The questions I asked in this work continue to drive my paintings, but I have shifted to exploring them in the context of the natural landscape - in particular the places where water meets land. My recent work work reflects this shift in my imagery, and is based on my interaction with and documentation of a specific landscape: the Alabama Gulf Coast.
We think of land as solid and immutable, heavy and dense with proscribed edges and borders (geological, political, cultural, personal), but it shifts as drastically and permanently as anything in our natural world. Coastlines are especially vulnerable to change: the ravages of storms, natural erosion, marshes’ and estuaries’ fragility and, of course, man’s manipulation of the land. We shore up, close in, confine and try to tame this ribbon of tenuous border between land and sea, and any remaining patches of wild and verdant coast diminish steadily.
My gouache on found paper paintings are based on own photographic exploration of these meandering shorelines. From these images, I create an abstracted drawing of the landscape, editing out information and bringing the work into my own hand. This line drawing is then transferred to a prepared surface: a “canvas” made of stitched together plain paper bags. Onto this thin veils of gouache are intricately applied to bring the image into another atmosphere, a new poetic interpretation that hovers between object and representation. These sculptural, stitched together surfaces, with their layers of painting and drawing, are like the palimpsests I seek in the landscape: the strata of meaning and experience in a specific place.
Change is a constant in a world that is full of drastic quick shifts, death, inexplicable destruction by man and by nature, and of course the slow plodding progress of time. But there is also new energy in change: birth, reclamation, and the wisdom and grace that come from accepting this duality. As an artist, I function as a link between this landscape around us and the possibility within it. One doesn’t have to go far to key into a quality of presence. It is available, all around us, waiting to be heard.