Archive for February, 2011

Tessa Hulls is a Seattle based artist and illustrator whose work deals with themes of folklore and memory. She enjoys biking, climbing trees, working with masochistically small brushes, and cooking for impractically large groups of people.

This body of work explores the idea of memory and migration, more specifically how memory functions and why it is that we forget. My strongest memories are little more than flashes—childhood as the smell of water hitting hot blacktop, a decade of summers reduced to the texture of dry grass brushing against palms, friendships distilled into dizzied bursts of laughter and fireworks and momentum. How do memories lose their focus? How do they change from literal recreations of a specific point in time into these vague and forceful impulses?

As I started traversing the process of memory, I began to see forgetting as an active process. These funny little characters started sailing their ships across my sketches, and I started thinking of them as memory nomads. In their world, which might also be our world, memories are made of finite material, and there is a limited amount of that material to go round. You can’t remember everything because the substance of your memories has to be recycled in order to make new memories. Think of a memory as a set for a play: the memory begins as something detailed and intricate, and these memory workers gradually dissemble that set. They take away a rug here, a chair there, until eventually all you’re left with is a sketch, a placeholder that recollects the entire scene.

These memory nomads are gypsies: they move in packs and have no real home. I’m not sure if they’re lonely, or if loneliness is something that really exists for them, but they do seem heavy from the weight of the memories in their care—to me, it’s as though they wandered into a dreamlike forest and never fully reemerged.

These paintings are series of illustrations of these memory nomads. I hope you find their world as interesting as I do! Thanks for looking.


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When I was first introduced to the discipline of Book Alteration, I immediately found an affinity with the practice of cutting away undesired material, leaving behind topographic landscapes of shape and color. Excavation has been a means for exploring the 3rd dimension, as virtually all the other visual art I create is bound in 2d.
Oftentimes Book Excavations are referenced as belonging in the family of Collage, for their sometimes random organization and subject matter. While Collage enjoys a certain freedom of composition, inherent in the cutting and pasting of elements, Excavation deals with a great many more limitations. Working with a bound book means that the elements are In-Situe, or, already in place. Thus, one of the most important factors for creating a strong composition is choosing the right book to begin with.
I have a resounding love for color and so I tend to choose books whose images are rich and bright. During the excavation process, the books often take on an element of Allegory, as I reveal people or objects and choose how I want them to interact with the rest of the composition. Sometimes cutting away the layers can be painful and disappointing, as I appreciate the subject matter or colors, but cannot find a way to integrate them into the design.
I find catharsis in cutting into books. Rarely do I feel any sort of guilt for incurring damage on the book, as a work of art in itself. I look forward to the adventure of the unknown and the unfolding of creation, page by page. Such work I practice and inform with help from the mantra:
In destruction, tainted with chaos, there lies the potential for a creation – more beautiful than that which was destroyed to create it.

~ Lola Ocian, February 2011

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