Monday, August 20, 2012


Damming.  This is the highlight of my studio this summer.  It’s a verbal alternative - an analogically appropriate one- to the procedural term “masking” in drawing and painting.  I drew out the word from a review by a writer who used it to describe a particular aspect in the work of a fellow painter colleague and mentor Timothy App - an aspect I’ve also been starting to  use in my own work.  

As a method “damming” consists of taping, tracing, slicing, making templates so that a particular area of the drawing or painting is secured, bound, extracted and made specific.  This sectioning off of areas privileges each area in a way that the hierarchies previously set between the different parts of the work are eradicated.  As I “dam” this area and that area, the form of each area becomes thoroughly specific and attains a status of equal importance or equal unimportance.

As the form of each area attain clarity through the “dam,” each area then becomes their own reality: a reality that is distinct -but not completely removed- from the reality of the bound area adjacent to it, and other bound areas in the work.  The resulting totality is a growth, a development, and a patchwork construction consisting of multiple constructed realities where each possesses their own particular set of internal dialogues, and whose clearly defined boundaries are the very spine that holds together the complex totality of the drawing or painting.    

This is not to insist that “damming” is the ultimate method to achieve this holding potential.  It is merely one of possible methods, all of which are equally potentiated to a particular goal.  But in the case of what I’m doing, “damming” works:  it clarifies categories;  it interferes with expectations; it’s a reprieve from the power of subjectivity; it checks and limits persuasiveness and fluency; it questions habits; it is doubt circumnavigating to make me unsure.  

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