Barbara F. Warden

F I R E T A L K  A R T S  

At the start of 2017, I began a new series of large drawings titled “Impermanence”.

At the time, I was unaware that the concept of “impermanence” is the essence of Buddhist philosophy.  I had been preoccupied with this concept for several years, and it took shape at first in my solo exhibit – “365:  Elements in Time” - at the BIGGS Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware in the summer of 2016.   


The substance of that show was twofold. I determined to make a drawing a day for a year – hence the “365”.  And I chose natural elements that were to some extent transitory – smoke, rain, wind, echo, memory, and even stone.  Over time they would fade, dissipate, evaporate or even turn to dust.  These new drawings are an extension of the BIGGS exhibit.


In addition to drawings, the new portfolio has a strong collage component.  It was not intentional.  I was reading T.S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland and was struck with one phrase he used – “a heap of broken images”.  Those words formed a very graphic picture in my mind of upheaval, disruption, and damage.  In fact, I thought about the millions of people on the move today whose lives and communities have been broken apart.  The word collage has to do with glue and “suggests structures that barely hang together and might easily become unstuck.” (Paul Muldoon,  Introduction to The Wasteland).  It was then that I started to rip up my drawings.


The original drawing became the base for a strong and somewhat crude second layer - the collage - that consisted of other large drawings that I had torn into strips of various widths and lengths.  I made these strips into a woven pattern that I glued., stapled or taped onto the first drawing  which remained intact and became the support for the woven paper.  If necessary, I would continue drawing onto this combined surface. 


Let me offer some thoughts about why I draw.  For me it is the basis of visual experience.  Its immediacy, spontaneity and directness allow for quick notations or sustained concentration in a search for resolution.  The final drawing stands as its own independent form of expression.  It is not preparation for a painting or a piece of sculpture.


In addition, I value the power of line.  A single line on a blank page can become the opening gesture that along with other marks can create texture, depth, mass and complexity.  Experimenting with materials, pushing their boundaries, discovering new textures, new spatial relationships - becomes the thrill of drawing.  And the eraser absorbs memory.  I use many traditional drawing tools and I will make new ones if necessary.  Paper – all kinds of paper – is my preferred surface.