“Domestic Departures” Workshop | Santa Ana, California

I spent a week in Orange County–Santa Ana to be more precise–in a workshop with 18 other artists in a store-front art studio, exploring the theme of Domestic Departures. The workshop was an offshoot of an exhibition of the same title at Cal State Fullerton, with artwork focusing on the domestic experience.

The theme, from my point of view, was wide open to interpretation. Does domestic mean the home or the home land? Does it merely imply acts and roles associated with the home or the structure itself? Is a departure a starting point, is it the separation from the normal or is it about leaving something behind?

Because of this ambiguity, there were many interpretations of the theme in the work made by the participating artists–some focusing on home and familial suffering, others exploring the objects that constitute a domestic experience. Materials used include human hair, American flags and found objects, while some artists focused on conceptual expression with actions taken outside the studio, engaging passersby.

I explored “departure” as a final act–an abandonment of the domestic existence for something else. I worked with images of maps, female wrestlers and recipes, while gathering samples and specimens of domestic expression using the language of science.

Mollusca

Mollusca, 2006 (installation)From time to time, I make a work that is “just for me”–usually working with some imagery or subject matter that I’m currently  interested in but is not necessarily related to the themes in my “serious” art. I recently became fascinated by nudibranches (a.k.a. sea slugs) and wanted to capture their incredible array of colors, textures and patterns, which are remarkable in their variety. What I find particularly fascinating is that sea slugs evolved their visual variety with eyes that are relatively undeveloped, so they will never know what they look like.

From a collection of images that I found on various sites on the Web, I printed out 6 x 6 inch squares featuring a detail of the skin of a particular species. Each square was then laminated and the square arranged in a grid. After I displayed the piece for the first time, I recognized that Mollusca is, in some ways, more compelling and emotional than the “serious” work I was creating at the time and its forms and colors are a source of inspiration for additional work.