When I draw, I begin by observing. The closer I look, though, the less clear things seem. Drawing becomes a dialogue between form and process, representation and abstraction, imagined and real.
My ongoing series Bone Drawings are inspired by traditions of trompe l’oeil painting, natural history and scientific illustration. Like those forms of imagery, bones attempt to be a permanent record – they last beyond death - and symbolize underlying truth. Many drawings are based upon specimens I borrowed from Grinnell College’s Biology Department that I then sketched and photographed before creating a larger, composite image. When drawing, I am absorbed by the task of paying attention and accurately rendering forms and surfaces.
Despite my care, the forms continue to elude me – they are all fragments, partial and mysterious. Sometimes they resemble other things. They evolve as objectivity gives way to the process of drawing. The drawings embody both the desire to understand, to capture truth, through slow, careful analysis and an awareness of the ultimate impossibility of this attempt.
Common Garden Variety is another ongoing series of drawings inspired by botanical illustration. I use ordinary garden flowers and fruits and vegetables from the grocery store and farmer's markets.
The Rope Drawings evolved from a series of small doodles which began to uncoil and move across the pages of my sketchbook. To develop them further I used a piece of rope, found in a corner of my studio. Rope can symbolize limits, binding and constraining, yet as I played with it, it became like a little animated figure. I was intrigued by how the rope became a source of creativity rather than a restraint. My children were very young then and I had little freedom to make art - I felt like I was making art out of nothing.
In the large works I used the rope to tell stories and to respond to specific sites. In Animas (literally, a soul or living being) I imagined a rope coming to life, leaping and twisting before coming gently to rest. Fall is a drawing about transition: begun as a braid, it dissolves and unwinds, spilling down the wall and onto the floor. In Fling the rope was flung on the ground then photographed and drawn to simulate a group of dancing figures. I was struck by how they became alive by moving from the floor to the wall - a metaphor for drawing.
Copyright © 2019 Tara Shukla - All Rights Reserved.