Alexandra Grant and I sat down to talk about travel, art, books and inspiration. She is a visual storyteller, narrating on canvas with elegance and poise. The quintessential Lipstick lady.
The role of language in society, our lives, communication omnipresent. Do you think it is taken for granted?
Language is everywhere, isn’t it? Even when we’re traveling and can’t read the words around us we can recognize that those signs, those fluorescent graffitis mean something, that the words being spoken and shouted and sung want to seduce or threaten or comfort or teach. Is it only when we travel that we realize that language is different than the words planted and growing in our heads, and by different I mean contextual. How cocooned are we in our own cultures that advertising increasingly caters every message to our encoded choice-preferences so we don’t pay attention to words anymore? It is said that we live in an image-based culture because words have ceased to reach us. That’s why I’m interested in writers and those working with language who work to keep language alive.
The curator Alma Ruiz called you a painter of language. Is there a fundamental link between life and literature?
Reading – and minutes ago I just stopped everything to read a poem by E.E. Cummings posted on a friend’s Facebook page, “nobody, even the rain, has such small hands” – seems to clear the mind of dulling detritus if even for a moment and remind one about spirit. That’s a way of saying I was procrastinating answering your questions by the pursuit of something ineffable. I’m reminded of my mother’s favorite line from a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, “God’s Grandeur”: There lives the dearest freshness deep down things… (here’s the text: http://www.bartleby.com/122/7.html). Since I was a child I’ve been debating whether the search for that freshness is some kind of justification for the continued search for ineffable (addiction, really), or, if nature does surprise us by its positivity and blindness and ability to grow over things and foil human control on the one hand, and repeat patterns infinitely on the other.