David McCreath

sticks & string

deadfall plant material, watercolor paper, thread

project info

About this project

I began work on this series in March 2020 while I was still living in California, just after the first COVID stay-at-home order.

Initially I was inspired by the black and white line compositions of Frank Stella and attempting to reinterpret those in natural forms like sticks. As the series has progressed, that’s become more of an aspirational goal and I’m enjoying each development.

My material are all found-objects, scavenged from the ground while walking with my dog Annie. There’s eucalyptus, lodgepole pine, live oak, and cottonwood, among others.

Objects that meet my vague criteria must be “interesting”, but they’re still just scraps and deadfall—there is nothing inherently valuable about them as objects. For my canvases, I initially opted for paper over fabric for ease of use, but I’ve also come to appreciate the qualities of paper as a medium in itself.

Currently these are sketches: I am still working through an idea that I do not completely understand myself. It is unclear what my end-goal is for this project or what form these final pieces will take, for now I am still very much exploring as I create.

Some historical antecedents:

Medieval European reliquaries – A type of of dissociated preservation intended to show veneration of a whole person while also creating a compelling separateness.

19th century plant collecting – There was a popular hobby at this time of making what amounted to scrapbooks for pressed leaves, plants and even seaweed. Almost the opposite of a reliquary in the overwhelming commonality of the subject, but careful and deliberate in its own right.

  • What can we notice when we take the time to focus?
  • Do we choose what we remember and what we forget?
  • How should we memorialize what’s important?

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