I have a recurring dream where I am the eyes of a body that I do not recognize. My hands are reaching out to the small Azalea tree that has sat on the windowsill of my childhood apartment since the week I was born. The tree appears lit from behind, and my hands are outstretched as I reach in closer slowly. Dark, small, oval leaves form a sphere at the top of a braided trunk which stems from the moss base inside of a terracotta pot. It is winter so the tree is bare of its white petals. I reach the tree and delicately examine how the outermost branches are smaller than the inner, how it seems like someone tends to it, that the stem is braided and how the moss base is damp. I begin to unweave the multiple strands, slowly and strategically pulling one branch to the left and the next to the right. At that it ends.
As a maker I work to be untangling the Azalea tree. I am private in this regard. I am attracted to and driven by the tactility of materials, and I notice that which reoccurs in thoughts, conversations, dreams, and drawings. I hope to perpetually be untangling my observations and fascinations through making. In the body that isn’t mine with the hands that are mine I do not desire an untangled tree but instead want to be touching and moving it. All I can do is sustain care for this process of fiddling with the branches, practicing when to dwell. I am stimulated and made listless by the scope and uncertainty in my attractions. To endure this confusion, I start from where I am. I recognize the tree in the backyard, movement in DuPont Circle, conversations with people, my parents back in New York, how to make rice, and the differences between black coffee and coffee with milk. These are the things that ground me. These are the things which I experience most intimately. On these I dwell. From these I work. The only detectable consistency in my practice is amusing these fascinations. I attend to and manipulate them by highlighting and obscuring. I iterate and cumulate layers of representations, as I hide, reveal, and revel in certain elements. It is this repository of distortions which I have recently found most tantalizing. Made of layers, groups, pairs, and contrasts, the allure of these distortions are the balances and instabilities that lay exposed. While I begin to make I tend to slow process, consideration of materials and contemplate possible courses. While making I commit to the hands-on process and labor intensive trance which I am so fond of. Late every winter the Azalea tree looks dead. There are no more little oval leaves, the moss is brown, and the branches look dry, and every year we wonder whether it will bloom again. When white flowers appear again, I admire the surprise and pace that is this Azalea tree. I find that making is similarly slow, frustrating, and fruitful.
We take care of the Azalea Tree, watering it every Thursday and spinning it so it gets the light which has not yet been blocked by new skyscrapers. The flowers that bloom are mesmerizing, as is the stem, the dream, my homes, buildings, and people I know, am close with, and encounter only once. I practice being in this flow, acknowledging how I am im-pressed, and shifting my-self from noticing to making.