In the last 5 years I have done 7 public art projects that involved building structures out of 100's of ladders loaned to me by the members of communities. Our goal was to represent the way a sense of community occurs when there is a mutual agreement to support each other's hopes and dreams. Those projects involved a looking out of myself to find my place among others while Now I Lay Me... involves a looking into myself in search of my place in the universe.
It all started in my studio when I constructed a reclining figure suspended up in some ladders. The ladders are part of my collection of 100 old orchard ladders that were given to me by Frank Levering, owner of Levering Orchard of Ararat, VA. By building with screws I have been able to create temporary installations with the ladders in a wide variety of spaces. This is the 7th installation I have made with them since 2006.
After the installation stood in my studio for a few weeks, I decided on the title Now I Lay Me… and I began a series of 30 drawings. Like all of my work, the drawings are extensions of my life - explorations of my past, present, and future. I make art to discover where I have been, what I think, and where I am going. I try to pay attention to my life and surroundings in hopes of catching a glimpse of meaning. Some of the things that appeared in the drawings include my childhood bedroom, the factory where my grandfather worked and his garden, the church I attended as I grew up, a flower from my garden, and lots of clouds, stars, leaves, trees, houses and roads. Since this work was to be shown first at Whitespace gallery in Atlanta, some subject matter came from Atlanta. The writings on the drawings (some are my own and some are quotes from others) were put there because, for me, they extended the meaning and the mystery.My main tool for the drawings is a pencil - a wash pencil that allows me to spray or brush water on the lines to make them blur and bleed. I use acrylic paint too - often adding enough water to get it to flow. I do some work while the surface is wet and some while it is dry. On many of them I used stencils depicting some of my favorite symbols that I have cut over the years. The paper I use is very durable and holds up to multiple wettings and layers of working and re-working. The whole process is a rather random stream of conscious affair as I switch from being very focused and careful to deliberately lessening control. Words and images from my environment slip into the drawings - something someone said or I read, or heard on the radio, lines from songs I'm listening to, things I see outside my studio all filter through my consciousness and enter my memory. Memory plays a big role in all of this - like St. Augustine, I believe that memory is the vehicle that take us in towards knowledge of ourselves and out towards all the mysteries that lie beyond ourselves.
Charlie Brouwer, 4/24/2013