(This essay was published by Oregon Arts Watch.)
I spent a Saturday afternoon at the Lumber Room with Lynne Woods Turner, a Portland-based artist, and I made us spend most of our time looking at her art–21 gorgeous drawings, each measuring three inches by three inches. Because the drawings are small, all 21 of them can be hung in a single row on just two walls. As I walked along one of the walls, the drawings seemed animate, in motion, alive. There is tension within each drawing, places where lines almost touch, where the negative space becomes the positive space, and there is also tension between the drawings, as lines disappear, or shapes are turned upside down, or straight lines curve, or new lines materialize. The drawings feel like a dance, or like directions for a dance, choreography.
Turner has, in fact, been thinking about dance. Symmetry and balance shape the drawings in this show—forms double and multiply, mirror one another–but in dance, Turner noted, you can be asymmetrical and still have balance in the body, an idea she’s been engaging in her more recent paintings and drawings. “I’m thinking about the curve of the spine,” she said, “the shift of hips and shoulders.”
During our conversation Turner offered what she called a “defense of small works.” By working small, Turner can investigate how to make something expansive without resorting to “throwing materials at it.” She works in her studio every day, and the small size allows her to make a lot of work, to explore ideas fully without space or material limits. (In an earlier conversation at her studio, Turner confessed to having no patience for artists who feel blocked–Just stop talking about it and make something, she said–and I now hear her words in my mind every day as I sit at my desk to write, or as I don’t sit at my desk and don’t write.)
To read the rest of the essay, please visit Oregon Arts Watch.