For the past three decades, I have made painted scrolls and screens in response to a question that arose in the studio some years ago:

Can We Change?

My newsigns alphabet is a personal response to the fractures in human relations caused by war and cultural/ecological destruction. Like Asian languages, each sign, or letter, is assigned a complete meaning, and combinations of signs, like hierglyphics, form more complex ideas. Originally, I designed newsigns as a system of graphic chops, or stamps. Over time, I redesigned the alphabet for calligraphy, resulting in more organic forms (newsigns in depth).

I’ve long been interested in figure painting, icons, semiotics, sociopolitical subjects, mythopoetic texts, poetry (references list). I make paintings, scrolls, and drawings that share the elements of traditional Asian scroll painting, namely images of man and nature, poems, calligraphy, and chops. I often combine new and traditional materials and methods – inks, papers, woven fibers, water and plastic paints, and hand-stitching. As with Asian scrolls, painting, mounting and framing are integrated from the beginning in one united whole. And like religious art forms in both eastern and western traditions, I give the minutia of creative choices – choices involving gesture, composition, shape, color, etc - values saturated with symbolic meanings. Over time, repetition of particular images and meanings has produced a cosmology of icons. For example, I work with particular human forms that I think of as ‘the diver,’ ‘the worker at the threshold,’ ‘the judge,’ etc.

Each piece may be seen, then, as an object of contemplation, whose symbols and meanings are somewhat familiar yet ephemeral, with no obvious interpretation, except what is to be found in the body’s reaction, the mind’s drift away from typical ideas about art. I want my work hanging in home altars, libraries, gardens, sancuaries, i.e. spaces of contemplation and reverie . I make my work as spurs to contemplation in daily life, as harbingers of changing minds, of my own changing capacity for moving outside of received norms. I want new cultural, social, and spiritual forms in life as in art, and the excavation into my own mind keeps resulting in forms that look primitive to me - almost childish - and somewhat delirious.

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The work is the changing mind.

Can We Change?