Sketchbook: Repurposing Markmaking

I have a deep fascination with the residue of history, the notions of ghosts and ancestors. Because of my cultural background and upbringing I truly feel that we are all standing on the shoulders of the dreams, gestures, deeds and work of the people that came before us. A few years ago I had a major epiphany within my drawing and collage practice in which I realized that I have an intense urge to not only re-contextualize historical documents and photographs but also do the same to my own original imagery and artworks through reconfiguring and reorienting how I initially created them to be viewed or purposed. Horns from a fertility headdress/sculpture become creatures that extend from the walls, drawings of unnamed beings that overtake the figures of the colonial postcards become featured in paintings and are given entirely new personas and narratives.

I have always been an avid sketcher and refuse to call the unique vocabulary that I have intensely built “doodles.” There is something that is so dismissive about the notion of doodling. The OED states that a doodle is “An aimless scrawl made by a person while his mind is more or less otherwise applied.” Other sources state that to doodle means “ to scribble absent mindedly”. When I draw these creatures and lines there is nothing less about my aim and my mind is not absent upon the task. I am covering, accentuating, undoing narratives, anthropomorphizing and reimagining the stories that a drawn line can tell. For me the repetitive line work to create these creatures and bundles help me to think and process the tension in the photograph. The action of drawing helps me to conceal, accentuate and remix the narrative and intentions of the photographer.

Over the years this building up the vocabulary of "non-doodles" has become an extensive archive within my sketchbooks. My sketchbooks have become hallowed ancestral grounds in my studio, my home and while in transit. I carry them with me and document sprawling jungles of lines and formations that meander turn and twist across the pages. They document space, my emotions my thoughts and interactions. These lines and the need to create them have been with me since I can remember. I also realize that my books are also not so hallowed that they can’t be torn and reconfigured into the new. Recently I have literally been cutting the images out of the books and pasting them onto the images and then building around the cutting and pasting to intergrate the old with the new.

It is as if my every gesture is building upon a legacy of something new and forthcoming. The explorations of the drawings are utilized only after they have aged and I have had some distance from them. They wait ready to come to life again.

Lately I have been scouring my sketchbooks from 2007-2009 to use as collage materials for my new body of works within The Uninvited Series. This year my abandoned sketchbook drawings and gestures have become the focal points for my new works on panel. While preparing new works for the VOLTA art fair in New York this past spring I started thinking about my sketchbook pages and drawings that I have archived as the Ancestors of the new works. Majority of the intense detail and line work present in the new works were intuitively and spontaneously drawn years before. I discovered that when they were placed into the new works they embellished the images and told new and vivid stories. In this sense the new work is standing on the shoulders of the old. Every gesture, every line, every experiment is an ancestor. Sometimes this process of repurposing also freaks me out because my archive of drawings are like fossil fuels, once they are gone they are gone! The repurposing has given me an even stronger desire to continue my sketchbook practice and take it to new heights. Each gesture gives birth to the new and the work grows stronger with each investigation. Drawing has become a secret and sacred practice of mark making, building and archiving for me. I have so much fun anticipating what the next Ancestor Paginas will become.

A lineage of mark making is born and reborn again....


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