Artist's notes
Nervous System, 1997
oil on cotton
78” x 84” (198.12 cm x 213.36 cm)

Nervous System

Nervous System, 1997. This painting was completed, then reconsidered, sanded and completed again. It was begun in human body orientation referring to the spinal column and the endless branching nerves, with specific destinations; likewise, the idea of the cerebral cortex, connected to its billion bits of information. Later, as the process required greater control, the configurations became geometrized and strict architectural systems began to emerge. The nervous system was finally referred to the layout of a centrally controlled political or governing system. The previous version's use of the red color for blood was now likely to convey the red of Soviet totalitarianism, with its centralized power and its myriad extensions in reverberating satellite locations. The echoing church and city plan image is a generic idea to symbolize all of these systems simultaneously, while the snow-white field is stained with rosy seepage to convey growth of influence or contamination. Gray ghosts of other schemes or routes dissolving into the white, suggest disappearing patterns of plans and/or abandoned functions. This work allows for assignment to theological metaphor as well. The system is nervous because it engages so many involvements and exploits social responsibilities. The map like movement of formations reach out from the condensed central axis in ever weaker and divergent directions. It suggests systems of total control become brittle from a lack of tensile strength when overextended in overreach.


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