DEBORAH ZLOTSKY

Last year I found a set of striped bed sheets from the 1970s at a garage sale, the same type I grew up sleeping on until I left home for college. These vintage sheets and the many others I then purchased on Ebay have become my muse. Their patterns and beautiful colors recall my earliest memories of space, light, and movement, as well as the sleep I achieved so easily as a child before the urgency and temptation of electronic media. Repetitive layers of horizontal stripes are beautiful abstractions in themselves, and convey order and regularity. They also reference stacks and piles, evoking measurements of and fluctuations within human and geological time. Historically, stripes have demarcated social status, as in the striped clothing of prisoners in the 19th century, 20thcentury concentration camp uniforms, and the cloth patterns reserved for outcasts described in medieval book of hours manuscripts. One of the most dazzling and confusing stacks is a fata morgana, a type of mirage named after Morgan le Fay, the shape-shifting sorceress of Arthurian legend. This type of stack is an optical illusion created by bent light rays, resulting in displaced and reordered stacked images that can appear as a body of water or a sequence of fractured objects.
 
In my paintings, I stack and combine, following a Rube Goldbergian process of connecting relationships and creating order. My process ends up being a series of responsive, corrective actions, “repairing” structures within the overload of potential relationships. The cycle of accumulation, rupture, and remediation reveals a new syntax; each painting becomes a fata morgana of stacked and repositioned parts. Led by a neural, even counterfactual, gravitation for new outcomes that build reciprocity in things that initially appear unwieldy or unrelated, I paint and repaint as one contingency opens up the need for another. I frequently hit roadblocks and make wrong turns in the process, but these detours offer an entrance into the pleasure of pursuit, of discovering what’s hidden within an initially simple equation of parts activated by the complexities of coincidence. For me, the friction between intention and coincidence is as unavoidable in my paintings as it is in the daily processing and deciphering required to be in the world.