Mapping Resonance is an installation of several bodies of artwork by New Mexico and New York-based artist Jill O’Bryan. The exhibition addresses connection, action, and time as processes of creation. O’Bryan brings the contemplative practice of being “present” to her artistic process by heightening her awareness of her immediate surrounding, the New Mexico high desert. She brings attention to her senses by recording her interaction with the land. The outward act of taking record coincides with an inward experience of expansion. In one of her well-known series “Breath Drawings,” O’Bryan archives time by counting and recording her breaths. Referencing Tonglen breathing (a form of meditation found in Tibetan Buddhism), the drawings are made in hours long drawing marathons that take place over days, months and sometimes years, archiving time and breath.
For the larger “frottages”, O’Bryan lies down on large sheets of paper and makes rubbings of the rocks on the mesa where she resides half of the year. The process is extremely physical and requires the full faculty of her body. Rubbing graphite against the paper, an impression of the rock below forms. The artist’s corporeal connection with the land is recorded along with the cracks and crevices formed by time.
“Recording my interactions with the dirt and rock, sifting through the desert rubble, which is alive with activity, I lie down on it and let the rock hold me. Then I draw this holding, which I experience as a resonance. I am not just scratching on the surface, so to speak, in some way it is retrieving depth.”
Mapping Resonance articulates one’s body within the landscape and the myriad interconnections formed through action. All of the artworks in the exhibition point to the place of the artist’s body during their creation. O’Bryan refers to ‘planes’ when describing the works, “ground”, “on, and just above the ground,” and “above ground.” These ‘planes’ also contextualize the relatively narrow space the human body occupies on earth. Just as the title Mapping Resonance suggests an ethereal cartography, it reveals a system to catalog presence within a landscape.
Angie Rizzo, Visual Arts Curator
Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe