Asemic Pandemic

Asemic Pandemic

Here we are stepping into the spring season and the gradual awakening of nature. We too are coming alive with hopeful thoughts of reemergence and connecting once again with the people and places we love. The pandemic has been a great teacher over the past year and asked us to pay close attention to what truly matters and keeps us grounded. Art certainly found its way to the top of my list.

In the early months of 2020, my focus turned to teaching online, finding novel ways to stay connected to family and friends, and thinking about how the arts in their many forms fit into the bigger scheme of things. The passage of time felt strange and unbounded--some days thick like syrup and others barely visited. In the malaise, making art felt mostly perfunctory--generated more out of habit than of inspiration. 

Throughout the year, new challenges presented themselves while new insights emerged. Although creative work eventually found its rightful place in my daily schedule, new approaches replaced those that I had previously worked with. I often found myself asking a question that I rarely, if ever, had asked before while making art: am I having fun? It seemed like such a strange question to be asking during such a difficult time. Why fun? Why now? 

So I began working with ink on paper in a less structured, more squishy, wobbly fashion. It wasn't preconceived. It happened by accident as I was checking to see if a much loved ink pen was still working. I started scribbling on the back of a sketchbook page and it looked intriguing. It brought to mind the art of asemic writing and the freedom it entailed. It felt simple and unencumbered.

Asemic Pandemic Color Drawing

I filled several sketchbooks with these ink drawings and then felt drawn to experiment with color. I worked with pigmented ink and prismacolor pencils and felt energized by the flow of color during the cold, gray days of winter. During my daily hikes, I looked for signs of color in Lake Michigan and the dried remnants of nature, the hues and patterns found in winter garments, and the thrown back reflections of sky in the windows across the street. 

Larger sheets of paper have offered more space to test out more mark making approaches and color experiments. I noticed recently that this growing stack of drawings is probably a new series and that, if the past is an indicator of the future, I may be heading back to large scale ink drawing very soon. Only this time it will most likely include color. And that seems right on target as we await the warmth of spring, playing in the dirt, feasting on the joyous colors of our urban gardens, and reconnecting with the people and places and all that we love.