Antonio Machado, “Proverbs and Songs 29”
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
Theodore Roethke, “The Waking”
As a child, I was always afraid of making the wrong decision. Selecting from many possible options was torture unless I could find a convincing rationale for my choice, some external justification beyond my own desire. Fear made me superstitious. I enlisted numerology, mythology, arcane patterns of all sorts to confirm the “rightness” of my decisions.
This body of work confronts decision-making head on. Still craving a system, I borrow one from nature: Plateau’s laws, which govern the branching and growth of many natural forms. Within that system, I improvise, lighting out for the territory without a map. Each drawing grows by slow accretion as I allow myself (or force myself) to make hundreds of tiny sequential decisions.
Working at the micro level, I have no idea of the macro consequences until I step back from the piece. Even then, because I work in ink, I can only move forward, building on what I have already laid down. There’s no turning back. The tiny decisions are irreversible, like scars and other indices of the unidirectionality of our lives. In this way, making the work is like life: a series of incremental choices whose full import we may not know for years.
There is no road: we make the road by walking, and learn by going where to go.