Life in the Balance
Multi-rhythmicity and multi-stability are elements of resilient systems that I express in my paintings and drawings as they shift from chaos to symmetry. The “edge of chaos” is a term in complex systems theory that describes the exact point where a chaotic system meets an ordered system. It is a moment when new emergent phenomena can occur. The idea, then, is to push each painting up to and past the point of chaos in order to observe what happens. My process involves a slow, careful buildup of layers to create balance, and the frequent introduction of random disruptors (ink stains, paint pours, sprays and drips) to create imbalance. The two opposing forces work continuously with and against each other over many months, ultimately evolving into a state of equilibrium.
Nature speaks in patterns, and I have worked to perfect a language of color and geometry that can respond to the boundless stimuli and increasing instability all around us. Through art, I try to explore how living organisms, and the complex systems within which they exist, adapt to random events and adverse conditions. An optimist by nature, my earlier work was devoted to the ideal of resiliency and the hope of survival. Lately, however, the paintings and drawings are leading me in a new direction – one that is less ordered and stable, tilting toward a tipping point that feels more imminent with each passing day.
Caroline Harman, June 2019