Artist Chris Duncan shares how he paints with the sun

To kick off 2019, SEE(d) gathered at visual and sound-based artist Chris Duncan’s joint project space, Land And Sea Oakland, where he and his wife, Maggie offer a space for artists to share their work. After warming up with whiskey, mingling and seeing the works on view, Chris explained how he discovered and developed his process of using time, the sun, and moon to make his art. To fend off the cold during a winter in Oakland, he and Maggie had hung their beautiful quilts in their bedroom windows. When the quilts came down after the thaw, Chris reveled at the sight of their bleached back sides. This began a new trajectory in his work, in which he engaged directly with natural cycles, placing folded and stitched fabric in the natural environment on the full moon and harvesting the works six months later, again on the full moon, to reveal surprising and often exquisite results. Chris explains how many works fail and how the reintroduction of his hand ‘saves’ them:

I engage with natural cycles. For every one that worked, there are 3 or 4 that didn’t measure up. Eventually that led me to reintroduce my hands and apply paint to see if I could ‘save’ these works—to create a natural union between time passing, the natural course of things, and my own input.

Chris is equally passionate about incorporating natural elements into his sound work, where he plays with the notion of ‘a simple gesture repeated to the point of transcendence,’ capturing sounds of ocean waves and wind, and layering them with human breath. The sound piece he shared with SEE(d) brought everything back to the present moment—a deeply inspired artist sharing his work in his urban space with people who appreciated hearing a completely spontaneous creation in time. Nothing on the phone or social media mattered, only the lapping of frequencies to allow each person to muse and savor their own relationship to sound, to the sun, to time.

Many SEE(d) participants expressed the experience felt unique and nourishing, a 'one-of-a-kind spiritual re-boot.' This is exactly what SEE(d) would like to offer, a bi-monthly needed break from the weekly routine, where you can, for lack of a better phrase, resonate with deeply felt ideas and learn while supporting Bay Area artists' studio practices.

We look forward to our next gathering with Marcela Pardo Ariza in March.

--Katya and Tana
SEE(d) Co-directors