Seeing Things in a
Seeing Things in a New Light
Making art, for me, is a way of life – a way of connecting with others and making sense of experience. I listen with my eyes. Looking is a form of listening. I photograph to make tangible this act of looking, of beholding the world and bearing witness to it. Simply calling attention to the interaction of light on the surface of things has the potential to transform one’s apperception of those things and events, just as focused attention can transform thought. Over time, images, words, sounds and artifacts gathered from my experience are reworked in my studio. The resulting artwork celebrates the act of looking in a way that promotes awareness and curiosity for what is both seen and yet to be.
My approach to making art is fluid, ephemeral and rigorous. Grounded in traditions of drawing, painting, performance art and photography my work also owes a great deal to my study of psychology, phenomenology, feminism, and art history. Playing with light , line, shape, metaphor, repetition and change, surface tension and rupture, perception and recognition form the building blocks of my visual language. My artistic aim is to enhance perception, awaken the apperception of ordinary beauty and inspire curiosity about the process of “making sense” of one’s experience.
I see forces of nature and culture as intimately and reciprocally related. It’s important for me to seek environments that sharply highlight both their difference and mutuality. The Farm River flows in both directions outside my Branford, CT studio. It is my muse ‐ providing sensual, aesthetic, formal and metaphoric sustenance. I trace its lines, surfaces and movement with endless fascination for what might be found, lost and rediscovered there. This watery landscape is both me and not me. The river provides an endless flow of material ‐ perceptual, actual and imaginary ‐ that often informs the content of my art. Unlike the grids and angles of the built environment, lines in nature are rarely straight – they wander, tighten, relax, move, thicken disappear and reappear in unexpected places.
On the surface, the linearity and regularity of the built environment offers a different picture ‐ one of predictability and permanence. My studio in New York City is like a tiny craft immersed in a current of people that ebb and flow, coalescing around ideas and desires that give rise to culture ‐ our collective social creation. Negotiating this current provides a secondary axis to my artistic production. Unlike nature’s creations which arise unbidden, cultural and artistic creation requires psychic and physical struggle to transform imagination into form.
Borderlines, both in nature and culture, fuel my creative process. In the grips of uncertainty, or intersection between forces, I feel most alive, aware of contrasts and motivated to make sense of my experience. The artwork is the landing place, the ultimate form the question takes. A visual edge, like a spatial or cultural edge, poses questions, heightens perspective and suggests differences to be reckoned with, resolved or rejected. Photographically, this is the perceptual edge between what is visible and invisible ‐ what can be seen or felt ‐ and what lies buried, or beyond recognition. To shed a little light, or give shape, direction or focus to this edge is my quest and question.
—Linda Cummings, 2019