Kathleen Mulcahy: Artist Statement

"I am a planner, a plodder, an observer of the smallest detail. To paraphrase Paul Klee it is a devotion to small things.  I think the future will be about holding to this small piece of ground, mapping it thoroughly, discovering every corner, and finding out what makes it breathe and, what makes me breathe.

"That is how I feel about the drop form.  A small “gather” of glass is teased off the end of a punty forming a pool of light at the bottom. This form is delicately poised on a screen of bent and etched plate glass that has been brushed with a cream etch in layers like paint then washed away to reveal a diaphanous landscape. A metal frame has been made of either darkened mild or stainless steel each affected to create bright horizons or shallow riverbeds securing the glass within.

"Water has become my muse.  It could be the deepest blue and high bright reflections of the open sea, emerald green of an alpine lake, horizon line at the Gulf or the shallow bed of a lazy river. For the past twenty years, I have been canoeing the rivers of western Pennsylvania with a lively group of women.  We pack the canoes for a three-day journey, setting up tents along the riverbanks, cooking remarkable feasts from common matter. We are alchemists; the water is our gold.

"One day in the summer of 2002 on the West Branch of the Susquehanna River a storm kicked up ahead of us. That river was too wide and shallow to allow us to take purchase on the bank. As it moved quickly toward us I had to submit and rain poured like a sheet moving through me, then just as quickly it was gone.  In that moment of the rain subsiding, the air went through a transformation. It smelled pure and the sun burst through. Everything felt rearranged, reordered in some way. I let my hand drop in allowing it to open to the cool sluice of water through my fingers.  The colors were warm iron, orange, browns, sand and dark shadows of the vessel quietly and quickly transporting us. I paused, for just a second, and thought what could my new work look like because of this moment?  Then just as quickly returned to paddling, letting go of that river musing only to awaken from a dream many months later seeing three separate images of drops, pearls and triangulated forms on a wall. From that seed these new ideas began to develop.  This work transports me to that space between rain and air, that moment of transition, of transformation on the river allowing me to enter a place that would never have happened if not for that moment of apprehension and beauty. Each crystalline clear drop, purposefully placed has a cadence creating a spatial harmony of pauses akin to tonal inflections. Each composition is specific to moments of experience shifting in successive retellings.  This river or stretch of horizon, that I am willing into being, presents me with that perfect moment of a storm receding, the air clearing and the feeling that everything is fresh."

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