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Notesketch IV

Marissa Cook


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formal / provisional structure / genesis presence / absence order / chaos This piece is one of a series of nine which uses layers of text to reflect on the structures that we use to make sense of the world. Many of these structures (i.e., language) are necessary, but they are also constructions, and can be broken—must be broken—to be expanded. This piece charts a journey in questioning, in learning how to break and expand preconceived dualities, and sit with questions that may go a long time unanswered.

13.75"H × 15.3125"W × 0.875"D
Mixed Media
Gesso, ink, pencil, and acrylic transfer on board


I have always been a maker of symbols and stories. Combining a fascination with signs, words, and abstract concepts with the physicality of materials and textures, I seek to explore the relationships between external experience and the structures we create internally to understand that experience. I use a combination of drawing, painting, printmaking techniques, and found objects to overlap layers of text and images, play with legible and illegible text, and construct my own symbols and structures. An extension of my own process of making sense of different emotional realities, my practice blends the systematic and reasoned with the intuitive and the provisional, or make-shift. My process of engaging with materials echoes this: the serendipity of found objects and chance occurrences—wood grain, blooms of ink in water, paint drips—speak to a greater and more intricate sense of meaning than I could contrive on my own. Much of my work until recently centered on binary oppositions in language and the gap between what is said and what is meant, informed by personal anecdotes and automatic writing. Currently, I have begun to create a personal lexicon of symbols to explore states of being that cannot be easily contained in a word. I combine flower meanings, fairy tales, medical texts, and travelers’ signs into images that investigate cycles of loss, grief, and regrowth. Stylistically, my work alternates between realism, particularly organic images with a bend toward the surreal, and abstraction in the form of signs and symbols. I move back and forth across this spectrum as a means to draw connections between inner and outer realities; to bring images from my mind into the complexities of physical being, and to distill some of those complexities into a clearer form.

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