About the House Shape

I began this series with an investigation into the geometry of the house shape. With its implicit arrow and upward point, what compositional demands did this shape make of me? Were divisions, diagonals, and architectural references required? When did a rectangle read as a door, or a stripe connote a steel beam - that is, when did colors and forms become descriptive, rather than evocative? In addition to architecture, I looked to Cave Art (the original house paintings) and medieval church art, for clues to working with this shape. Throughout, no matter where I painted on the panel, I was aware of the apex. It exerted control over where I placed my every stroke. It seemed that I was always painting to the point, regardless of where I was.

This literal exploration of place and placement gave way to metaphor, as it always does. In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard referred to the house as "the dwelling place of memory, imagination, life/being and psyche." The ancient Greeks originated the house shape as a dwelling for their deities (the Parthenon) and found spirituality in the perfectly balanced form. At its core, the house shape represents the shelter in which our life cycle unfolds. The places we inhabit hold within them a momentum, quite apart from us, that propels life forward, upward. In the end, much like our bodies, we leave these shells behind.

Others have used the house shape to address issues of confinement and women's work (e.g. Louise Bourgeois, Miriam Shapiro). That has not been my endeavor. Rather, I use the house shape to speak of direction and place, both physical and metaphoric. The house shape prompts us to dwell, to consider, where does the self reside? Who am I at any given point? What direction do I face? What remains?