The Beginning

This project grew out of a chance encounter between three artists at a special exhibition of J.M.W. Turner’s Whaling paintings at the Metropolitan Museum in the summer of 2016. 
 
As we looked together at the activity of chase, it was mentioned that the pink on the wounded whale, which now feels pivotal to the painting, was most likely a vibrant red.  Turner, favoring the immediacy of making over permanence, was notorious, of course, for his inattention to the stability of the pigments.

Our conversation turned quickly from the subject of change to a consideration of how artists throughout history and across mediums are able to contend with the vitality of their matter.

(so beautiful to reach across centuries for the lineage of touch)

This question, shared between makers about how a pigment transforms, was at once poetry and practicality, illuminating just how vast a conversation around material can be.  While finding ground in the literal (choosing and figuring out how to use one’s materials), artists invoke timeless questions about why we make art and the ways in which we engage with the world.

How do we deal with our ephemeral body, with time.  How do we as matter, touch matter.  If an artwork can maintain it’s power even as it changes form, where in fact is the essence of the artwork held.  How can a creative engagement with the physical expand into discourse about the affinity of our body to other bodies, and the interconnectivity of all we touch, see, and feel.  Astronomers who love the stars, in Borges’ terms. 

 J.M.W. Turner, Untitled (from the Whalers Sketchbook), 1844-5. Chalk and Watercolor on Paper. 222 x 331 mm.   Courtesy The Tate Britain.

J.M.W. Turner, Untitled (from the Whalers Sketchbook), 1844-5.
Chalk and Watercolor on Paper. 222 x 331 mm.  
Courtesy The Tate Britain.