I have always been fascinated by cycles of life and death and rebirth. With the onset of COVID-19, I began to observe and question how our new pandemic rules were shifting emotional landscapes. That is, how do you comfort a friend when you can’t hug them? What happens when you remove the social aspect of grief? I began this project by thinking about the changing emotional topography I was observing, but soon broadened to a longer and wider scale of time. I arrived at sand as a vehicle. Sand, as time. Sand, as builder and destroyer. Sand, as equalizer. Here, sand creates terrain, worlds which the paint must navigate. Landscape dictates form.
I would like to offer this quotation from Annie Dillard’s Holy the Firm as one way of framing this project: “Earth sifts over things. If you stay still, earth buries you, ready or not. The debris on the tops of your feet or shoes thickens, windblown dirt piles around it, and pretty soon your feet are underground. Then the ground rises over your ankles and up your shins. If the sergeant holds his platoon at attention long enough, he and his ranks will stand upright and buried like the Chinese emperor’s army.” We constantly dust our bookshelves, take showers, sweep the floor. In essence, we continually excavate ourselves, trying to keep ourselves and what we love from being buried under thick dust. This project explores and expands upon that idea, asking what we do or do not allow to sink in sandy fields, where it is, what grows on top of it.