Happy Accidents

One of the great delights of making artwork are the occasional happy accidents. It’s not often, but sometimes a few disparate things will align, and I’ll get an unanticipated outcome that I’m excited about. It can surface in the midst of working in my studio when I have no particular expectation in mind. This is what happened with this piece I recently made, Pine Needle Polka Dot.

Earlier in the winter, I had collected some pine branches for a project I was working on. Predictably, the branches dried out and all the pine needles fell off. Around this time I was recording audio for an unrelated video project, and I was experimenting with the sound that the pine needles made sliding across paper and falling onto different surfaces. Among my varied sound tests, I dropped the pine needles down a cardboard tube. There was nothing particularly interesting about the sound. Ready to move on, I picked up the tube and there it was; my happy accident. It was a circular pile of pine needles. I was looking for a sound, but instead I got what would become the image for a print.

It’s moments like this that remind me how much I enjoy the time spent in my studio looking for something I can’t yet define. From pine needles to cardboard tubes, studios are the places that small and unexpected things can happen. 

As I worked, I began to see that I could control the scatter of the pine needles by adjusting the distance of the tube in relation to the surface. Who knew? Who would think to look? The only way I’ve ever been able to create artwork is to get curious about something. It can be something as inconsequential as pine needles down a cardboard tube. I love the mystery of making.

Out of this happy accident, a happy piece was made. I had fun with this work, and it lead me to think about doing this process as a larger installation. I’m pleased to announce that I’ll soon have the unique opportunity to do just that. This summer I’ll be creating a site-specific installation in the Hapgood Wright Town Forest in Massachusetts. This exhibition is in honor of the 200th birthday of Henry David Thoreau and is entitled, Slow Eyes, Solace & Site. I’ll be writing more about the installation in the coming months, so check back!

In the words of Thoreau (and also the encompassing statement for the exhibition), “We must look a long time before we can see.”

Pine Needle Polka Dot, Digital Pigment Print, 17.5” x 14.25”, 2017