Rhythmic ‘States of Mind’

Artist, Karen Margolis, devises architectural renderings of the mind’s operations by plotting dots and burning holes in paper. Having studied cognitive psychology, she has developed a system to translate her inner thoughts and feelings into molecular patterns and rhythms, maps that chronicle the chemistry of her “states of mind”.

Ostia, 2010 17x17", 3 layers of Abaca paper

Ostia, 2010
17×17″, 3 layers of Abaca paper

Central to my work is a desire to explore the ambiguous boundaries between physical and mental space.  Psychoanalysis, Zen Buddhist practice and science inspire my journey into the psyche.  I’m fascinated by the mind’s operating system and try to find my way into unknown intervals to locate the poetry within loss and renewal.  The intent of my work is to pry emotions from their human substrate and capture the essence of unobservable, ephemeral experiences in solid, material form.

Turbid, 2015 24x18", Mixed media on Abaca paper

Turbid, 2015
24×18″, Mixed media on Abaca paper

I look for the connective tissue between the universe and the microscopic and I have found it in the circle, the most basic component in existence.  The circle can be found in all of nature as well as in religious symbols; it is a molecule, a neurotransmitter, a halo.   As a practitioner of Zen Buddhism I became interested in the sacred symbol of the Enso (Japanese for circle) because it embodies infinity, perfection and totality.  I’m also attracted to its paradox of imperfection and reinterpret the circle in both positive and negative space as a shared language connecting physical to psychological.  As my primary means of communication, I expand the circle’s vocabulary through architecture and color, imbue it with meaning as well as encrypt it to obfuscate comprehension.

Parturition, 2015 25x18x12", Mixed media

Parturition, 2015
25x18x12″, Mixed media

My quest to formulate a means of visualizing the mind at work led me to use journal entries as source material.  I devised a corresponding system, a flow chart of emotions that categorizes and assigns a Pantone reproducible color to each emotion.  This chart is the foundation for my color choices.  I encode my interior monologues into accumulations of colored dots, evocative of molecular activity in the brain.  I consider this work a visual mapping of interior thoughts and feelings; a way to communicate without divulging by translating meaning into pattern.  Compositions evolved to incorporate negative space, linear attachments and map fragments that reference ‘states of mind’.

Emotion flow chart (4th generation), 2013 26x22", Pantone color chips, ink on Abaca paper

Emotion flow chart (4th generation), 2013
26×22″, Pantone color chips, ink on Abaca paper

Invalid, 2011 84" diameter; Watercolor on map hole discs, staples
Baburu, 2014 86x72", Watercolor, ink on map discs, pins, cotton covered wire
Mula, 2014 15x10" circumference, Maps, Abaca paper, acrylic on cotton covered wire
Oblique, 2014 28x10" circumference; Acrylic on cotton covered wire, annealed wire
Omphaloskepsis, 2015 26x32x15", acrylic on cotton covered wire, thread, annealed wire
Filipendulous, 2015 48x18", Mixed media on abaca paper
Detail of Filipendulous
Disaffectation, 2015 30x22", Mixed media on abaca paper

Color-coded dots have expanded three-dimensionally into sculptural constructions ranging from 15 inches to over 15 feet in height.  Comprised of cotton-covered wire, individually rolled into components, hand colored and then attached with annealed wire, each construction is built up through successive growth layers and pieced together in jigsaw puzzle fashion.  They form murkier conversations between material and space, producing obstructions from shadows, blockages and openings that, like our emotions, interfere with perception.  “In situ” is created from the process of painting the wire components and setting them to dry on transparent polyester paper.  Residual paint from the drying process leaves an imprint on the transparent paper.  A sonogram of my unborn creation, “in situ” generates a two dimensional image of the developing constructions.

In Situ detail, 2006 to present Dimensions variable; Acrylic on transparent Polyester paper

In Situ detail, 2006 to present
Dimensions variable; Acrylic on transparent Polyester paper

Map works are born through destruction.  Symbolizing more than the exterior world, or the implicit promise of providing direction and composed of vascular systems and arteries, maps also act as proxies for our physical selves.  Working with worn out, used maps, I enhance their colors and trace over roadways to augment their intrinsic structure while amplifying their beauty.  Then, borrowing from the ancient technique of trephination, I burn holes into the maps and excise discs.  Producing dislocations, the holes subvert ability of maps to communicate, but as surfaces are layered on top of each other, passages emerge into new territories and interrupted routes find new connections.

Paris, 2015 35x25", Watercolor on layers of maps

Paris, 2015
35×25″, Watercolor on layers of maps

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karenmargolisart.com

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