The Elephant Arrives

I am excited to announce that DFA #1 is finished!

It has been nearly two years since I began the Drawings for Africa project in the summer of 2017. In total, I have made 4,902 measurements to ensure that all elements of the drawing are in near perfect proportion to one another, and that all wrinkles, folds, and other features are true to life. Using scientific sampling techniques and GIS software, I have been able to estimate the number of shapes that I have drawn in developing the texture of the skin. DFA #1 contains around 205,000 discernable shapes within a figure that is 35.5” wide by 50.5” tall. To draw a comparison, it is said that on a cloudless and moonless night, a full-sky reveals to the human eye around 9,000 discernable stars.

It is my hope that DFA #1 finds a home in a place open to public viewing. In my mind, art achieves its most valuable service when it inspires an audience to feel an intimate connection with the world beyond the self or encourages the viewer to contemplate the morality of their own way of life.

When we question the morality of our interactions with the world, compassion is alive within us, and there remains a potential to achieve greater degrees of equality among all life. But when we become indifferent, when we no longer question right and wrong, nor the impact of our actions on the world, we lose the ability to grow and progress together and to the benefit of one another. Questioning the goodness of our actions marks the difference between being truly alive, and somewhat dead inside. It is this deadness that I seek to change through art.

As the writer, Viktor Shklovsky remarked, “Art exists that one may recover the sensation of life; it exists to make one feel things, to make the stone stony.”

We tend to accept life in the form in which it is handed to us. We adopt ways of living defined by technological innovation. And our interactions with the world are shaped by the ideologies of our time and the forces of social conditioning. But the abundant extravagances of the modern world often tarnish the quality of our own lives. As many people have remarked, we are so busy trying to experience everything, that we no longer feel the full substance of anything. And all too often, our encounters with the animate life occur through the inanimate window of technology. So, the stone loses its texture and the rose its fragrance.

Drawings for Africa is every ounce of the artist and environmentalist within me poured out onto a sheet of paper. It’s my attempt to “make the stone stony,” and to help an audience avoid the deadness of indifference.

Thanks for reading!!

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