Defending Surface was inspired by a long, lost memory of a documentary on cryptobiotic crusts; a natural formation on the surfaces of untouched deserts of the world which have a capability to form a living, protective layer over the biosphere that resides beneath. If left alone long enough, the crust will form. These surfaces are simultaneously delicate and formidable.
The forms appear in surprising, geometric ways. Minerals bloom organically like flowers unique as snowflakes. Scientists wax poetic when describing them: “they keep the place in place.”
Rhizomic in nature, these crusts are connected and cover vast areas of space. One foot step, and the crust shatters. I am far from done with this research and therefore not sure how far one breach could spread or how fast the self-repair could happen.
Cryptobiotic crusts are the conceptual fuel to a formal, material investigation. This process includes an omniscient subject matter while chasing idioms and I accept accidents along the way and will seize the controls back as the painting demands.
Defending Surface is a meditation on process that combines, oil paint, varnish, gesso, ink, stain, and plaster (on linen) that invokes stone and pressed botanical material and opens up into landscape. Future Defending Surface paintings whisper to a romance with figuration.
The thought of something that has a definitive, structural purpose with the side effect of an inherent beauty, deeply resonates with me. The beauty is not where it starts, nor the main purpose. It. Just. So. Happens. Maybe it is the noticings of getting older. Perhaps I am trying to find the beauty in my own crusts.
The title of this series is a play on words. The subject is a defending surface, and I am defending my choice to create such a surface.