During this spring, painting itself was overshadowed by the question of whether painting-life could continue to exist at all. But after months of the flowers, they started to morph into abstractions. The flower stems looked like the legs of figures stalking around, their heads bent over in a kind of looped narrative with no particular story except growth and then withering. The world’s ground was shifting, so I started concentrating on the fields behind the figures – patterns, plaids, and confusing figure-to-grounds, a purposefully destabilized signal-to-noise ratio. And eventually it was the process of improvisation itself that seemed the most timely and urgent. I was thinking about a quote by Fred Moten, “improvisation is making nothing out of something.” In this sense “nothing” is a good thing, it means you’re in a hole, on the brink of change, and you have to listen, to pay attention. Improvising is a process that comes from within and that proposes a without, a nowhere that is everywhere. The hard questions continue (how to keep making paintings at all, if the world can possibly be rebuilt, and how) but I hope there’s an alchemy in there, a use, in keeping on working with the motion between the known and an abstract (but felt) unknown. – Amy Sillman
Amy Sillman lives and works in New York. Her works are held in the public collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Brooklyn Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MoMA, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; and the Whitney Museum, New York, among others.