Writing

Confessions of a Compulsive Organizer

If I am talking with you, and you are standing in front of a pane glass window, I will shift my stance slightly to line up the stripes on your shirt, or the edge of your glasses, with the panes in the window. If there is a tree beyond the window, I can adjust my body to line it up with the tree and the panes and the stripes and the glasses. I am doing this constantly. It’s not a visual experience as much as a physical one.

Proportion, distance, proximity, spatial intelligence and projective geometry all play a role in this secret thing I do.

When I first visited the Agnes Martin room at the Harwood Museum in Taos, New Mexico, in 2009, I had major epiphany when I realized that her paintings were actually entering my awareness through my body, more than my mind. Since that awakening, and my subsequent shift towards understanding painting in a more postmodern lexicon (thanks in large part to earning my MFA at Vermont College of Fine Art in 2010), I have plunged into a studio practice where I easily spend 8 or 10 hour days organizing, aligning, repeating, counting, building, inventing, and editing in paint.

The process of visual alignment and organization (both the conceptual and the physical) is such a visceral thing that at times I feel it altering my brain chemistry.

As I organize paint into shapes and marks on flat or dimensional surfaces, which I also sometimes build (organize) out of wood or cardboard, it’s not the end result I am after, but rather the process of translating my physical experience of space into objects. They are not pictures, but neither are they sculptures.

Lest this sounds too postmodern, let me suggest that in addition to preforming secret, compulsive acts of organization, I create each painting to be a talisman. They are objects made of paint that are imbued with the act of making, subliminally aligning, and realigning, both the maker and the viewer.

They go out into the world as acts and actions of hope, of healing, of optimism for the future and testaments to the magic and power of hand motions and the objects they make.

Sometimes this feels futile, and sometimes so redeeming. But either way, the compulsion continues and I can’t stop. The paintings are my love letters to the world, past, present and future.

Blair Vaughn-Gruler

2018