Inner Landscapes (proposal for NYU Gallery show)
I draw myself, from the inside out, tuning in to the subtle textures of inner body experience. A curving spine brings asymmetry to my core, and with it the need for a subtle effort of balancing. I’m always engaged with the workings of my bones and muscles and nerves and senses. In anatomical terms, this is the realm of proprioception: the network of inner body signals and sensors through which the body monitors its relationships with space, time, gravity, and all that is other.
For many years I drew my spine itself; but in recent years, my role as Artist in Residence has allowed me to observe and draw the spinal cord and the nerves that branch from it – pathways for movement and sensory experience: the consciousness of the body.
For someone whose physical life is constricted and whose range in the world is limited, the access to this inner landscape is wonderfully liberating. Inside my body I find a world I can marvel at and never get to the end of, a cosmos of infinitely unfolding detail. My drawings evolve slowly as I learn the anatomy in increasing depth and detail. I work to evoke the textures of real flesh and bone: a sensual take on anatomy, a reclaiming of the inner landscape.
Spinal cord scroll is a large, multi-layered print that imagines what my curving spinal cord might look like, and how my spinal nerves have managed to find their way out from between the narrowed spaces of my scoliotic vertebrae. Here, along with it, I show some of what went into the process of creating it: images from my 3D spiral CT scan and drawings based on two special dissections done for me in the Anatomy Lab.
Process: Floating colors
To create the underlayers of my drawings, I float oil paints on water. The drops of color spread out on the water’s surface as if magnified under a microscope lens, echoing the forms of nature. I transfer the floating imagery to paper, where it becomes the foundation for overlaid figurative drawing with charcoal, pastel pencil, and oil crayon. Drawing becomes a process of revealing: revealing the aspects of life that lie beneath the surface.
Link to a video of the process: http://www.lauraferguson.net/floating-colors-/