Somewhere along the way of living cloistered by strip mines (four mines within a three-mile radius of my home), I began retrieving, rescuing, rocks—some no bigger than my thumb, some weighing more than I—marveling at their astonishing variety and deeply moved by their singularity. I consider these rocks to be both beings and land. They are refuse and composite refusal of the hill or land, of its once (mythically) whole, "unreconstitutable" presence. When the rocks are engaged, handled, placed, they begin to converse and hover in a space of wonder—the land itself cast off in isolation.
My drawing is resolutely iconic contemplation and psychic musing. My affinities lie with postwar American abstraction, Western European portraiture and figuration, Japanese folding-screen painting, and Chinese Scholars' Rocks. In the drawing, light has doubtless naturalist characteristics (it illumines the structure of things), but it also is its very own unseen magnetic presence. A close look will reveal a rock as being attracted, another perhaps repelled, both illumined or shadowed and to some measure reflectant. The drawing therein becomes a meditation on cycles of condemnation and revelation, both in terms of the history behind the strip-mined rock, and in terms of the land itself in constant planetary orbit. The drawing is also a meditation on a world "self-lit" and a world illumined. As such, the rocks may be felt to be as embers already charred, rising, buoyant in space.
Karsten Boyer is an M.F.A. candidate in Visual Arts; email@example.com. His adviser is Micaela Amato Amateau, professor of art and women's studies, 305 Visual Arts Bldg., University Park, PA 16802; 814-865-9700; firstname.lastname@example.org. "Rocks" received second prize in the Visual Arts category of the 2001 Graduate Exhibition.