Spring Newsletter 2020 – My Life with Polygons

Nevada Geologic Map in Stone – 24.25″ x 34.75″, 2020

In The Studio

It has been awfully quiet in the studio recently. Just me padding around with some whirring, buzzing, and occasional roars from the grinder and saws in the mix. But no cheerful assistants to share the work. No friendly chit chat, no geo discussions; just me alone with my thoughts.

Most of my thoughts these days are about polygons. The 647 polygons in the Nevada geologic stone map to be exact. Each and every polygon gets penciled in, inked in, scanned, copied, cut out of paper, taped onto rock, vectorized, moved digitally to its file, cut out of rock, numbered, organized, de-nibbed, washed, dried, and finally, finally… glued into the piece. When it drops perfectly into its spot is when I can breathe a sigh of relief. And 647 sighs is a lot of relief!

You could say I have become intimately acquainted with a lot of these polygons seeing them over and over again. Most are not memorable, but a few are quite entertaining. It is not exactly like a Rorschach test but your mind can start playing games with you after hours of staring at these curious shapes. To stave off the monotony of the task, I humored myself by giving them nicknames.  Let me introduce you to some of the most iconic shapes.  I would love to hear what you see when you look at them!

Top: The Hatchet (Left), Candle in a Chamberstick (Right)
Bottom: Miss Ferret on her tiptoes (Left), Running Rabbit wearing clothes (Right)

I also have been making time lapse videos of all of these processes.  Collapsing hours of work into seconds adds a humorous touch to the serious intensity of this work. 

The 647 pattern pieces were divided into 5 boxes that were cut by my waterjet contractor.  Below is a video of what I did when box 3 arrived back at the studio:  each piece was separated from the stone slab, numbered, organized into groups; then tiny tabs, remnants from the waterjet process, were individually ground off (lots and lots of grinding!); and finally the pieces were fitted into the pattern… 8 hours of work condensed into 1.75 minutes! Enjoy!!

NV Geo Box 3 Timelapse Video

The Nevada geologic map is a project dear to my heart having worked in mineral exploration (mainly gold) in Nevada for 25 years. It is certainly the most ambitious geologic map I have ever created because of its complexity. So that all of these pieces did not overwhelm, I toned it down a little with subtle colors.  There are also 13 mineral and fossil specimens distributed around the state.  I’m especially fond of the gold nugget from Rose Gulch!

Below are a few pictures that help you see why I became polygon crazy for several weeks.

Top: Boxes with cut pattern pieces divided by rock type (Lt), Organizing Alluvium pattern pieces by number (Rt)
Bottom: Stone slabs with all 647 pieces taped on (Lt), Preparing to layout Lower Volcanics and Upper Paleozoics (Rt)

In The (Future) Field

The last couple of years I have been looking for an opportunity to stretch myself artistically by working on location in geologically active terrain.  Twice I have applied and become a finalist for the Artist-in-Residency at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  But when that did not work out, I pivoted to another equally exciting location: the Canary Islands.  In January I was accepted for an Artist-Researcher-In-Residency outside of Las Palmas that would have taken place in late March and early April.  Alas, COVID-19 made it necessary to reschedule the trip, but I am looking forward to collecting ignimbrites in western Gran Canaria, hiking on the fossilized sand dunes in Tenerife, summiting the highest point in Spain (with a little help from a cable car ;-)), and maybe seeing the Los Organos trachyte columns on La Gomera.

Have you been to the Canary Islands?  If so, I would love to hear from you.

In The Gallery/ Exhibition Halls

Unfortunately, my art at the Foothills Art Center in Golden, CO has been in lockdown just like me, and other exhibitions are currently postponed.

We are registered to exhibit at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists meeting in Houston from 7 – 10 June, however the AAPG is reevaluating whether that meeting will go forward.  Stay tuned!

All the best,

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