Nancy Blum
Drawing on Their Imagination

Approaching the Making of Works on Paper from different starting points,
a group of contemporary artists demonstrates how versatile their favorite medium can be.

By Edward M. Gómez
Art & Antiques, May 2015, pages 88-92 and p. 94.

With an academic background in psychology and women's studies and experience in the making of ceramic sculptures, the Brooklyn-based artist Nancy Blum's diverse body of work has included wall-mounted objects, manhole covers and public art projects in such cities as Minneapolis and Philadelphia. For San Francisco General Hospital, she created art-glass windows measuring some 100 feet long, whose designs depict native, northern-California flowers that have been used for medicinal purposes Perhaps it is no surprise, then, that Blum's drawings of flowers in exuberant full bloom, made with pencil, colored pencils, ink and gouache on large sheets of paper, are superbly crafted....

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Nancy Blum, Interwoven, 2014, ink colored pencil, gouache and graphite on paper, 49 x 117 inches
The Flower as Super Hero: A Conversation with Nancy Blum
Interviewed by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve

On the occasion of "Wonderland" at Ricco Maresca Gallery
February 20, 2014 – March 15, 2014

"It is only human arrogance, and the fact that the lives of plants unfold in what amounts to a much slower dimension of time, that keep us from appreciating their intelligence and consequent success. Plants dominate every terrestrial environment, composing ninety-nine per cent of the biomass on earth. By comparison, humans and all the other animals are, in the words of one plant neurobiologist, "just traces."
~ Michael Pollan, "How Smart Are Plants? The New Yorker December 23, 2013
TNG: To start, I'm interested in your background because until I spoke with you I had no idea you had a past life working with ceramic and metal.
NB: I was drawn to the labor of the craft of those mediums. In the 90s I did some metal casting and ceramics and was around a lot of potters but I didn't make pots.

TNG: What did you make?
NB: I often dealt with the circle and from that kind of geometric abstraction the circle eventually turned into a flower. But when I came of age in the art world, craft was not valued like it is today where I feel there's an amazing return, a kind of connoisseurship applied to daily life.

Did you consider yourself an artist or a craftsperson at that time?
NB: It's interesting you put it that way because one of the main reasons I entered into the craft world was because there was something about the values there that I wasn't finding in the art world. It was more humble, more community based, and at the time I needed that.

So when did you start drawing professionally?
NB: I started drawing seriously about 15 years ago but drawing was the first thing I ever did. I was one of those kids who drew compulsively for hours and hours and I still do. The investment of time in my work is immense and I want to bring this consciousness of labor – of things coming into being --and the quality of that presence --to the viewer. I believe it is about wisdom, i.e., that things actually do take time and are made of layers.

We especially need to be reminded of this in the digital era.
NB: I like the digital world but personally I'm very interested in the somatic experience and the fact that we are still going to be stuck inside of bodies for a while. Do you see the spirographs?

Yes tell me about them.
NB: Well it was a toy I played with in the 60s. It's a mathematical device but it also embosses. It allows me to penetrate the paper. Paper as a ground is essential to me.

There is a psychedelic dimension to your work too—Peter Max, I think especially of the film Yellow Submarine.
NB: Oh my god I loved that stuff. In fact I was really into the TV show Batman—and my work borrows from the aesthetic camp of that show.

Well Flower Power was a big part of that era. Those bright bulbous pop flowers—I had them all over my room. So did you draw comics at all?
NB: No, I drew patterns. But my drawings were very psychedelic very early. I was born in 1963, into a very aesthetic moment and I loved and absorbed it. Which makes me think of that sci-fi story you recommended, Flatland by Edward A. Abbott-- that was perfect for me.

I thought of your work because you present us with a world that could be either bigger than us, i.e., we're immersed in the middle of a jungle or forest, or it could be a minute world you have zoomed us into. Kind of Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss. Either way there is no establishing shot, no landscape with a horizon, the edges are cut off. These are not framed like a landscape; rather we are inside a landscape –a multi-dimensional world-- that is beyond our scope of perception.
NB: Well I have had a select few moments in my life where I have felt I have gone down the rabbit hole, where I have perceived breaks in how I understand dimensions. In other words, where I intuit other dimensions. Like in Flatland where Abbott writes about simultaneous worlds that are happening right now yet we can't have access to them but they are there. I can periodically perceive them. I know some people who are real intuitives. I'm pretty intuitive but I have never been psychic.

I have long felt that people who have psychic or telepathic experiences, and I know some people who do, are just more open to these other dimensions. And that is why I loved Flatland because after I read it, it gave me this image of Mr. A. Square as similar to the intuitive and psychic people in our three dimensional world who bump up against the limits of our perceptions. Do you remember that film Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames?
NB: That's funny I've been thinking about that and after I read Flatland I reflected that the film had made a formative contribution to my understanding — the idea that the micro cosmos and the macro cosmos are the same. 

And yet do some of these come from studies of specific botanical drawings?
NB: Definitely. They go way back. I use 16th and 17th century botanical drawings as a way to generate imagery. But obviously, I take tremendous license. I was recently at a fair and came across an engraving that was one that I am currently working with and I thought about buying it—there are hundreds of these individual images that are available. And I saw this one and I thought: am I just copying? Not at all! I'm taking a tradition and breathing life back into it in a different way. It is why I sent you that piece on Carl Linnaeus, who laid out the taxonomy of nature that forms the basis for how we classify species still today. Plants are systematized and categorized and named and I love something about all of that exploration and I love minds that can do all of that but I'm not doing that. I'm using these old botanical drawings for my own purposes in the same way that I am drawing Chinese plum blossoms onto the images. I have looked for ways that flowers have been depicted with different impulses by different cultures at varying times. Poetic, analytic, symbolic –and I am not trying to value one voice over another. I like to put species of plants that wouldn't survive in the same eco-system together in a drawing. I don't seem to want to put two flowers together that would work together in actual fact because I am not making a landscape.

Do you think that plants have feelings?
NB: Well, I am interested in all forms of life and all sentient beings. For that matter, I can enjoy a rock as much as a plant. But I do not presume to know about feelings. Yet I do think that plants are intelligent beings that clearly respond to all sorts of sensory input. In this sense one might say plants perceive the world around them, which leads me to think possibly 'feel' it as well. Two of my childhood friends became molecular biologists and botanists and study plants in this way. They were both just mentioned in an article Michael Pollan wrote about plant intelligence in The New Yorker.
TNG: I read that. I liked the way he discusses the impact of the book Do Plants Have Feelings by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, a book that made it sound like plants could laugh and cry and think. Pollan is able to expose the bad science of such speculations while maintaining that plant-life is hardly passive and has some kind of living presence we need to take seriously. I remember him saying we have to think of plants and vegetation as protagonists in their own drama, which sounds like your work. How amazing you grew up with… whom?
NB: Daniel Chamovitz who recently published the book What a Plant Knows where he addresses these questions. And Eric Brenner who is still one of my closest friends and one Pollan mentions for what he calls 'the Brenner Manifesto'. All three of us were actually on a Kibbutz together in Israel for half a year. Eric and I lived in a room together. We got up at 3:45 every morning to harvest onions. He was happier about it than I but I do feel we developed interests that we've been exploring in our work since that time. I am also sort of a Michael Pollan devotee. His book The Botany of Desire enabled me to understand what I already had perceived-- that plants have agency and are as likely to be manipulating us as we are manipulating them. To me this was a relief since I am not that thrilled about the way humans have chosen to control nature. Fortunately I am an artist and not a scientist and can take as many liberties with my 'plants' as my imagination desires.

You don't animate flowers or nature in the sense of turning them into characters.
NB: Every once in a while I think of bringing in the idea of a pollinator.

Like a bee?
NB: Yes, but I'm hesitant to describe narrative. The minute the bee comes in we as humans place ourselves as the primary player, i.e. the bee stands in for ourselves. Humans have this constant need for self-reference and I'm just not interested in that. I feel like I'm going for a deeper layer of consciousness.

What would you say that is?
NB: That the narrative impulse we have as humans to describe our lives, while fully understandable, limits the sphere of our consciousness. I want to know more and feel more about the exchange of energy that cannot be described through language and the ego. I want to live in the experience of unity that can be achieved by genuinely 'knowing' the interconnectedness of everything. My desire is to be more aware of the mystery and be able to sit in wonder of it. And I am trying to do this without hallucinogens!

Like all those 60s artists were. It's true, each panel is like a living, breathing, moving environment but without psychology. In this sense they exist on the threshold of narrative, of sentience. They're sneaky. They could do anything.
NB: I've heard more than one person say they are kind of ferocious and maybe that is because I have a genuine concern about our planet. I mean there aren't many things I can get behind as a political movement but I care a lot about the fact that we have over-used the natural world. We're really a bad species. We take too much. We use too much. We denigrate other life forms. When I was making these I was just trying to concoct an alternate reality where people were gone. I am interested in what happens when we are not here. I mean nature is going to outlast us. We will be gone but there will be other life forms that have a lot of agency and I like that idea. It's a different way of thinking than the idea that everything will be desperate without human beings.

So "Wonderland" is a post-apocalyptic world where nature has won?
NB: That's one way to look at it.

A nature that is familiar but odd and distorted in many ways. These works feel cinematic or animatic. I keep thinking of Avatar.
NB: I was just going to say to you when I saw the first few minutes of Avatar I said, wow that's like my work.

So how do you reconcile this work with your public artwork? How did you even get into doing public art?
NB: I think I need two types of art. I have that service component to me, wanting to bring something to people.

Did someone come to you or did you decide you wanted to make something public? 
NB: As I said, I am a creature of intuition and that's how I got into public art. I was a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee at one point and I just couldn't spend that much time with people there so I was like oh my God, I have to get out of here. I was there for 2 years and then I went to Seattle and while I was in Seattle I saw this call for manhole covers and I happen to love manhole covers and so I applied and got the commission. Here is where my past in ceramics and metal helped out because I had done carving into objects and so was able to come up with a successful piece -- the manhole covers are really my most successful piece of public art. And after that I just got pulled in.

What do you get out of doing public art?
NB: As I go along public art allows me to think more as a designer. It requires me to serve a community and problem-solve and respond to the architecture of a place and I really like that. I like the idea of putting artwork in hospitals or in transit hubs to be helpful to the people that are there. That is why in my public art I just let myself respond to things which is I guess why I associate it more with design. But with my gallery work I hold true to something just in my intuition. It's private. 

And you speak of the gallery as a place where you want the viewer to be able to fall into contemplation or meditation. I think of Monet's Water Lilies. There's so much of that same immersion going on here, where the viewer just stops before the work and falls into it; breathes and is there, in them.
NB: It's why I prefer to work larger rather than smaller because I'm interested in the world I am creating.

Right, even these smaller individual panels are made to be a part of a macro cosmos. Each is a fragment.
NB: Yes, I wanted to make something that would break down, but I love the large drawing and so kept to that sensibility. In fact, most of my drawings are probably the size of four of these panels. All of that space makes my imagination work harder. One of the reasons I started drawing after having worked in a sculptural medium was I just got sick of conceiving of an idea and executing it. With this I don't know what I'm going to come up with so there's an active engagement that is really magical.

It's about discovery.
NB: Right, because I don't know where I'm going.

How do you start then?
NB: I start with the spirograph.

You do! You start with the top layer?
NB: Yes, the spirograph is the only tool I use and it's the first thing I lay down. Then I draw out my major composition with a pen. I have found I need an emotional, visceral desire as opposed to a conceptual idea to move me--- in other words I work more through desire than my intellect. But I work across. I really like the scroll form -- I could have been a Torah scribe in another life, for instance I rarely make mistakes. Or if I do I just incorporate them. It's all organic.

Or to put it in temporal terms, you work more in the present, with what is at hand then planning it out ahead of time. 
NB: Yes, I place something then I place another thing and then I keep drawing it out in pencil and I keep erasing and then once the composition is drawn I outline it in black and then I'll draw the background pattern in pencil and go over it in black ink pen. With the shadows, I create the feel of etching and engraving – that sense of the flat two-dimensional paper as having depth or being carved. And then I go back over with little gold lines to give it a vibrational sensibility. I'm always trying to get the energy of the flower. There are all sorts of levels that this work can be approached on and I'm perfectly happy for a person to just have an experience with flowers. I've had people tell me I should make wallpaper and the thing is I don't have anything against hand-printed wallpaper but my intent is the exact opposite. My intent is to liberate the flower form the decorative so that the flower is in the service of the background as well as the foreground. I'm thinking of the way flowers have been devalued over time because they are seen as feminine (which has also been devalued over time). In this way we make beauty and power opposites. I care about the feminine and I care about beauty and I care about the decorative but I'll be damned to depict flowers existing solely in those realms. It's too reductive and it's not honestly true. Frankly, to go back to Batman and my love of the aesthetics of the 60s, my flowers are more like super heroes.
Magical Thinking
Please join us for the opening reception on
Saturday, January 7, from 5 – 7 pm

Rosamund Felsen Gallery is pleased to announce Magical Thinking, an ambitious new exhibition featuring the work of Los Angeles painter Karen Liebowitz. For this, her second exhibition at the gallery, Liebowitz will paint a single large-scale mural – measuring 16 by 30 feet – on the wall in our main gallery. This exhibition will also feature the work of two other artists with whom Liebowitz shares in community and intention, Philadelphia-based Nancy Blum and Los Angeles-based Vanessa Conte.

These three artists see magical thinking as an acknowledgment and openness to causal connections without a correspondent need for scientific proof. They share in a belief in the interrelationship of those experiences that go beyond conventional observation. When the ineffable and ephemeral engage with the material and tangible, beauty is revealed to be not a supplement to our experience, but a substantive source of power in its own right.

Karen Liebowitz's mural is a continuation of her ongoing series "Manifesting Prophecy," which explores apocalyptic stories and animal prophecy as alternate symbologies. As in past works, Liebowitz starts with an ancient religious literary text and from it invents a new drama; a contemporary, if not futuristic, myth in which women are the main protagonists. Liebowitz frequently paints the absurd alongside the miraculous, traversing the line between skepticism and faith – perhaps as a means of drawing our attention to the division – through female characters. The women in these re-imagined myths depict and enroll the power of earthly human intervention in order to make the magical happen. They demonstrate both overt and covert power, pointing to a new female identity that displays strength through nurturing, and an inherent sexuality that heightens their empowered nature.

Nancy Blum will present a series of very intricate new botanical drawings. These works present unabashed beauty at the same time that they subvert the traditional idea of the decorative. The complex and fantastical flowers appear to be the masters of their own universe, seeming to possess authority and freedom. Blum uses line and form in a subtly mathematical way, so the effect is hallucinatory, yet the nuanced patterns point to a sense that each move has an accompaniment or echo. Nancy Blum has exhibited widely throughout the United States and has created numerous public works including in San Francisco, Charlotte, and Seattle. She holds a BA from the University of Michigan and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy.

Vanessa Conte's paintings tend to describe nature as both recognizable and haphazard. What reads as stylistic significance doubles as a stain, or an incidental gesture. Conte utilizes non-systematic and varied compositional conventions to make paintings that are associative and therefore steeped in memory and reflection. For this exhibition, Conte will show three panoramic landscapes and a cluster of four portraits. Vanessa Conte has had solo exhibitions at JB Jurve in Los Angeles and Daniela Steinfeld/Van Horn in Düsseldorf. She holds a BS from NYU and an MFA from UCLA.

Karen Liebowitz is an artist and educator in Los Angeles and has exhibited throughout the United States. She holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon and an MFA from UCLA.

For more information, please call the gallery: (310) 828-8488
Gallery Hours: 10 am – 5:30 pm, Tuesday – Saturday
On Site / Artists' Projects: Nancy Blum

Visual Arts Center of Richmond, formerly the Hand Workshop Art Center
June 2 – July 24, 2005

Material Presence
by Ashley Kistler
Curator, Hand Workshop Art Center

To call Nancy Blum's work obsessive and labor-intensive is an understatement. Fifteen years ago, while pursuing graduate studies at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Blum began using clay as a sculptural medium, attracted to its "luscious, friendly, and touch-sensitive qualities."1 Since then, she has employed a variety of materials and approaches, working in both two and three dimensions, on a scale that ranges from the intimate to the monumental, and in the gallery setting as well as in public spaces. Throughout this evolution, the notion of repetitive action as meditative act has remained integral to her process of making intricately crafted, hand-wrought objects. With her emphasis on materiality and beauty, the seductiveness of form, and the effects of surface pattern and reflected color, she hopes to infuse the act of looking with a similarly meditative state of mind. In other words, as she wrote in 1998, "I have intentionally tried to involve the viewer in the aspect of art making I find most compelling: physical engagement."2
Richmond audiences were introduced to Blum's work in March 2004, when the group exhibition North American Ceramic Sculpture Now traveled to the Hand Workshop Art Center from the World Ceramic Center in Icheon, Korea. She was represented in that show by a wall-mounted, multipart piece entitled Lotus Pond, consisting of voluminous porcelain-and-bronze blossoms as large as 40 inches in diameter. As in her several other recent "flower walls" – one of which, cast in resin and aluminum, now occupies a 77-foot-long expanse in the Seattle airport – Blum's exaggerated shifts in scale and consequent transformations of delicate, ethereal things into hardy, voluptuous forms impart to her subject matter a robust, pop-inflected, and often eroticized presence.
Last fall, thanks in part to support from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's Creative Fellowship Program, the center hosted Blum as an artist-in-residence. Working virtually nonstop over six weeks, she produced hundreds of cast china-clay forms that later were assembled into 90 large butterflies. In this ambitious body of new work, the artist's ongoing exploration of pattern dovetails with other long-held interests: she adopted the raised and incised geometric patterns embellishing her butterfly wings from the dazzling designs that so beautifully bedeck Islamic architecture. For Blum, this traditional, culturally specific use of pattern epitomizes its essence. "Building on the work of Greek mathematicians," she notes, "Islam transformed geometry into an artistic form honoring the religious imperative to avoid visual representation while also expressing a spiritual connection through abstraction."3
Blum cites as a formative experience her visit to the Dome of the Rock, the famous Islamic shrine in Jerusalem, during the year she spent in Israel as a teenager. Among the Dome's many marvels is the patterned faience tile work that adorns its exterior walls, commissioned in the 16th century by Suleyman the Magnificent, the same Ottoman sultan who made Istanbul the center of Islamic civilization. Growing up in what she describes as the architecturally undistinguished town of Champaign, Illinois, Blum had never imagined, much less encountered, anything so stupendous.
Her fascination with pattern is evident as well in the many works on paper also featured in this exhibition. Drawing became for Blum an increasingly important activity after she first moved to New York from Seattle seven years ago, when she wanted to pursue something less cumbersome than making sculpture. Initially, she produced a large group of densely patterned, optically vibrant works by superimposing in each piece three or four layers of transparent acetate bearing geometric, floral, and biomorphic motifs. (One of these drawings was used as the design on a series of cast-iron manhole covers commissioned for the city of Seattle.) Soon thereafter, inspired by the etchings illustrating an early 20th-century scientific textbook, Blum began an ongoing series of ink-on-paper drawings that portray a remarkably fecund array of botanical images. These obsessively detailed, meticulously rendered Botanicals, rhythmically punctuated with the whirling apertures created by a Spirograph and the branching patterns of Chinese plum blossoms, have since led to much larger, more complex compositions. In them, Blum achieves on a single sheet of paper the same mesmerizing, multilayered effect of her earlier acetate drawings. This approach also informs her recent monoprints, in which long wavelike swathes of saturated color are overlaid with veritable galaxies of patterned elements.
At the Hand Workshop Art Center, Blum has created her own wondrous environment. As her conception of this installation has progressed, she has ultimately allowed her swarm of butterflies to overtake a whole gallery. Haloed by the subtle glow of reflected color, which emanates from the painted surfaces of the backs of the butterfly wings, these loosely clustered, overlapping forms drift upward across the surrounding walls. Unglazed and chalky-white, the front surfaces of the butterflies give them a ghostly, apparitional appearance. Although quieter and more understated than anything Blum has thus far produced, they bring to mind her Flower Wall I (2000-01), another monochromatic piece comprised of many outsized porcelain flowers, all glazed near-white. Drained of color, these surfaces act as a kind of tabula rasa awaiting the imprint of the viewer's imagination. In the earlier work, variations in form and contour prompt comparisons between component parts and underscore the assertive distinctiveness of each. In Butterflies, by contrast, the repetition of form and pattern subsumes the singularity of any one element, shifting attention to the overall effect and impact of the entire room-sized installation.
With this installation, Blum has more closely intertwined the various strands making up her artistic practice. By merging aspects of her two and three-dimensional works, as she comments in the following conversation, she intends to create a particular kind of experience for the viewer that exploits more fully the visceral effects of pattern. "A verb rather than a noun experience" is how Blum terms her intention, indicating that her concept of material presence has evolved to accommodate expanded terms of engagement.

1 Slide lecture at the Hand Workshop Art Center, November 2004.
2 As quoted in Kate Wagle, "Votive Influences: Four American Artists," in Per Grazia Ricevuta (Rome: Paolo Malagrino Editore, 2002), p. 248.
3 Unpublished artist's statement, 2004.
March 2005
Richmond, VA

AK: I'm interested in hearing more about your decision-making process as this project developed. Would you talk about your initial concept and why you chose to pursue this particular direction?
NB: I have a genuine love of the object and a desire to manifest something tactilely beautiful. Rarely does my work come from a place of conflict, but I have recently struggled with a feeling of political and spiritual discord. My experience of fear and anger towards Islam left me deeply agitated and in need of cultivating an understanding of a tradition not my own. I wanted to engage with something integral to it that I strongly admire. Islam has the same prohibition against representation as Judaism, the faith in which I was raised, but unlike Judaism, it developed a rich visual culture – a geometric, mathematically-derived abstraction that celebrates spirituality and fosters meditation. The act of making Butterflies helped me to step into a place of appreciation rather than opposition.

AK: Where did you derive the patterns that were used on the butterfly wings?
NB: They came from a book written by mathematicians who wanted to create a user-friendly guide showing how Islamic patterns mathematically break down so that they can be reproduced quickly on the computer. The authors' intention was to make accessible this rich tradition of tessellating geometric images so that Muslim artists in today's world can continue it.

What in particular appeals to you about pattern?
NB: I believe pattern embodies the most fundamental aspects of human existence, on a physical as well as a spiritual level. Pattern is abstraction, but it is also very specific. It occupies a place between non-material things that we can't represent and material things, actual materiality; it lets you play in that space.

What about the image and form of the butterfly itself?
NB: I told a friend that I would be making butterflies, and she thought that was really cheesy. But the butterfly relates to the botanical imagery that has preoccupied me for about five years now. These images interest me because that is where nature most clearly manifests repetition and pattern. The flower is about sexuality and beauty and reproduction and seduction, but it also follows mathematical principles.
A flower and a butterfly are both universal symbols, which I like. They are often dismissed, relegated to being unimportant and also feminine, which I hate. Pattern and the decorative play with those things that are frequently perceived as meaningless, mundane, or clichéd, but then you find the same thing about human nature showing up again and again.

AK: You've layered cultural images and references in earlier pieces, but here that aspect of your work has become more overt.
NB: I agree with you. I very consciously took something outside of myself and juxtaposed two things that aren't usually conjoined. Part of my inspiration came from thinking about the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher (1898-1972). As a young man, Escher went to the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, where he studied the Moorish architecture and used the Islamic patterns he encountered there as the basis of all of his work, combining them with images like fish and butterflies. So in a way, I did exactly what he did.

When you reached a point in the studio of assembling the butterflies and deciding what to do with them next, you mentioned you were faced with several choices.
NB: In every instance with this piece, I've gone with the more subtle choice. The forms remained white, but I chose to paint the backs of the butterflies with colors that would reflect on the surface of the wall behind them, so the result was something you perceived as opposed to something you were given. The viewer has to look long enough to see color.
Ceramics has a tradition of creating tile, which permeates Islamic architecture. I've never produced tiles, but with this work I have kind of created butterfly tiles; they are flatter than anything I've made. At one point, I thought about glazing them with traditional Islamic colors. The more active choice, however, was not to be repetitious but to present instead something that was barely audible and unfamiliar. People would have to pay some attention and discover it; that's the engaged-verb choice as opposed to the narrative choice.

In comparison with earlier installations, it is more subtle.
NB: I don't really feel like I've done installations before.

OK, then wall pieces.
NB: This is the difference, though. I feel like I've made objects that I have installed as groupings on the wall. The process is to look at those different things. I've been playing with a space that is simultaneously two and three dimensions. But with this piece, I also feel like I'm stepping into something that becomes a little more experiential – an installation in the way I perceive installation: it needs the moment to be effective.

The moment when the viewer encounters it?
NB: Yes. You experience the work primarily by being in its presence, moving your body through space, and perceiving it, as opposed to thinking about it as you look at an image.
At the core level, I'm trying to engage people in the experience of looking. I'm not really trying to say as much as I'm trying to create situations where people have to get out of their own heads a little bit in order to just pay attention to looking. Your mind quiets, hopefully, and then something else happens.
This also applies to my drawings, which I think have more of a hallucinogenic quality. I spend hours alone making repetitive little lines; I think of it as meditation. I'm trying to engage people in something of the same meditative state that I enter when I make them.