Cold Moon X

Artist Questionnaire
Many of the artists included in Locally Made responded to a series of questions about their materials and process. A selected response follows.

Title: Cold Moon X

Date: Winter 2003

Media: Charcoal on paper

Location of residence: Jamestown, Rhode Island

Location of work (studio/office): Jamestown, Rhode Island

Process: I started the Cold Moon drawings in the winter of 2002, after my husband and I precipitously moved to Rhode Island on the morning of September 11, 2001. We had already started renovating a wreck of a house in Jamestown the year before, but that day was the day of the “move” from our apartment, which is located a block from what is now known as Ground Zero. In a somewhat dazed psychic state I became rather fixedly interested in the weeds growing around our construction site, then gradually enlarged my field of interest in ever larger circles until that winter I started drawing the dried wildflowers under the light snows of Beavertail Park.

We were eventually able to return to the city but the house in Jamestown was now tight to the weather so it drew us up to RI on winter weekends through all of the ensuing years. I kept drawing the winter fields, using the steering wheel of the car as my easel, through the next several winters. Back in the Jamestown studio, I composed and recomposed the rhythms of the black marks until the fields reconstituted themselves.

I think of drawing as “code,” like a language. How can I “say” oak leaf, for instance, to distinguish it from a desiccated maple? So, seeing a complex shape, I make up a “phrase” for it. Then I have to figure out way to envision panicum grasses, or asters gone to seed, or rosa rugosas. Maybe a thumbprint is enough, like a punctuation mark, to indicate a wind drift or a melting hollow. When I finally learn how to “speak” the language I can start to invent phrases with it. I guess it is like music. By the time I drew Cold Moon X, I’d gotten pretty fluent in weeds, so I could play the music as I “saw” it, not as I had seen it.

The title comes from Native American names for the winter months. Frost Moon, Cold Moon, Ice Moon, or Hunger Moon, which is the name for that time in late winter when presumably the stores are pretty well empty and the first shoots haven’t yet sprung from the thaw. An image in a word.