Deep Rooted Patterns is an exploration into one of my deepest fears -- deep water. Where blackened shadows and murky outcrops blur the line between solid ground and endless fathoms, between lungs of air and lungs of brine.Who knows what ancient, longing fingers and ragged, rocky teeth await to pull us down below?
My fear of water is one I've had since childhood. It came from swimming in Olympic-depth pools, where the deep end plunged twenty feet down, hazy with chlorine and dimly lit. It came from violent movies about shark attacks, and from accidentally swimming with manatees, and from finding blackened, sharp teeth on the sandy beach. It came from nearly drowning while white-water rafting, a traumatic accident I have lasting pain from. It came from reading about dying sailors and burials at sea. It came from nearly drowning while swimming in almost-shallow waters off the coast of Florida while my family watched. It came in many forms, and it is unrelenting in its grasp.
My love of water is also one I've had since childhood. It came from hours-long baths that left my fingertips wrinkled and pale. It came from splashing in a cold swimming pool in the dry heat of New Mexican summers. It came from collecting strange shells and broken sea glass, from studying fish and reptiles, and from feeling the fresh sea breeze on my sunburned face. It came from rinsing away a day of demoralizing work by taking a hot shower, and feeling the water cleanse me of my salty tears. It came from understanding how vital water is to life itself.
My fear of deep water is visceral and sometimes debilitating.
Deep Rooted Patterns is a way for me to explore what a squamous, ancient, mossy, limitless, slick and unsafe abyssal plane underwater looks like -- a way for me to confront my fear of the unknown, the potential, the isolation, and the all-encompassing ocean while being relatively safe, physically. It is also a way for me to process ideas of decay and mortality and death and why these things are so incredibly frightening. I have always had a morbid interest in graveyards, murder, ghosts, and approaching the unknown from a paranormal aspect. But this work is more personal to me than a mere dive, if you will, into what is scary or unsettling -- I believe in ghosts, but I only truly fear the water.
What is it that you fear? I'd love to know -- as part of this show, visitors were invited to anonymously submit their fears. I compiled the results and will post them on my Instagram page.
Deep Rooted Patterns opened Friday, October 11th at the Fort Collins ArtLab in Old Town. The show was hung Friday through Sunday, with pieces available for purchase in person and online.