september FEATURED artist

Deb Wheeler-Bean

Endless Wanderer

I am an endless wanderer, staring down at the world and finding beauty in cracks and shadows. Returning home to my studio, I pour what I see into the things I make - finding inspiration from the natural world, from the poetry I am reading and from the things I find as I walk. Lately, making art is sometimes absent in my studio work so I rearrange things and think. Thinking and sorting are central to my process.

Walks for me are best early in the morning or late in the afternoon when shadows are warm and long. I play with the light, extending a hand and projecting puppets on the pavement. I think about this: sitting around a tree on a sunny day there is a shadow side and a sunny side. My truth is defined by where I sit. I try to remember this as I navigate my world. I try to change my position around that tree

Looking up, I see how the spaces between things sometimes tell more of the story than the things themselves. The negative space in a composition becomes the part of the image that holds everything together. I concentrate on looking at those spaces as I walk through my day and bring that emptiness into the images I make, playing with intentional ambiguity, humor and challenges to perception.

Looking down highlights the cracks in things and I am reminded of how much I love brokenness.  I call up Leonard Cohen’s lyrics from “Anthem”: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.” I search for things others discard and find the light within them. I honor the patina of every day and make images that highlight the beauty of imperfection.

Returning home to my studio, I take these ideas of space & cracks & shadows and layer them into the things I make. I listen to playlists my daughters send me and get to work. I revisit the words of author and poet John O’Donohue: 

There is a certain innocence about beginning, with its excitement and promise of something new. But this will emerge only through undertaking some voyage into the unknown. And no one can foretell what the unknown might yield. There are journeys we have begun that have brought us great inner riches and refinement; but we had to travel through dark valleys of difficulty and suffering. Had we known at the beginning what the journey would demand of us, we might never have set out. Yet the rewards and gifts became vital to who we are. Through the innocence of beginning we are often seduced into growth.

And then I begin my making.

Learn more about Deb and her work at artupfrontstreet.blogspot.com

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