I thought that the talk given by visiting artist Pam Cardwell was interesting on several fronts. I really liked how she explained her process as working like a writer or novelist in that she starts her works with lots of details, from whatever source she is working from, and then begins to refine them and abstract them. I also thought her talk was interesting in that she explained her interest in the work of Gorky and how she was first exposed to his work when on a field trip when she was very young. Cardwell then explained how she taught and lived in Turkey from 1998-2004, during that time she traveled in Armenia and Georgia where she looked at Armenian illuminated manuscripts and monasteries. She elaborated on what she loved most about these sites by describing how she looked to the frescoes in Georgian churches by loving the “massive scale and vibrant colors” and the faded images from the churches.
Perhaps the first point that I picked up on, and I saw realized in the drawings she did while visiting SMCM, was her idea that she works like a “novelist.” In that she will work from imagery seen in the environment around her and her first sketches will be more “realistic” and then she will go back into her drawings with an eraser and charcoal and rearrange and rework her drawings until they were abstracted forms of the original. I feel like this idea is exactly the same mindset as what I am working with in my current project. When I say that I am referring to how my current work involves taking preexisting documents and slowly making alterations and additions to the document to remake them in a fashion that seems more “real” in accordance to my own vision. So, in a way I find that my own working process is in line with what Cardwell described in her talk simply by coincidence of a similar mindset/practice while working.
Finally, what I think is working strongly in Cardwell’s work is that her drawings and paintings really do appear as these unique, natural “things” that your eyes have never seen before, yet also have some familiarity behind them. Looking at these images does allow the mind to start forming some connections – perhaps because I did see her studio when she was visiting, it is easy for my own mind to draw connections between these works and various natural formations (beaches, rocks, etc) and natural organisms, such as plant life. I also though that her explanation of her working process – taking in as much information as possible and then slowly letting some of it go – made her work much stronger and more relatable, as I could better understand how her mind was working through these artistic situations.