color's ordinates and affinities: instructions for chromatic living

This series developed through my encounter with one of the special collections at the University of Iowa during my 2011-12 residency there as a Grant Wood Fellow in Painting. I was intrigued by work from the Centro de Arte y Comunicación (CAYC), which was part of the larger Fluxus movement. Central to this collection are the "easily reproducible," fragile blueprint drawings that were made in the 1970s for an unprecedented exhibition titled "Towards a Profile of Latin American Art," a collaboration among an international collective of conceptual artists seeking to establish connections between North and South America. I seek to reinterpret a utopian sensibility that characterized, albeit differently, both the Fluxus and Geometric Abstraction movements. "Color's Ordinates and Affinities: Instructions for Chromatic Living," a solo exhibit at the ABW Gallery, consisted of a constellation of monochrome paintings and vinyl on walls. For each painting, I created titles in the form of instructions for creating monochromes, texts which in turn became the basis for the subsequent "Never Underestimate a Monochrome" at the museum the following fall. [photos: Jesse James Sinclair]

Paintings on bamboo panels, vinyl on wall
Installation: University of Iowa ABW Gallery [2012]


Make a brown monochrome painting with other connecting elements. Invite a friend for chocolate, coffee and conversation. Appreciate the material and relational presence of paint, friend, coffee and chocolate in the same temporal space.


Make a monochrome with The Color Purple. Read the book, host friends to watch the movie. Let it bore into you. Dream of better futures.



Make a pink monochrome painting. Imagine a postpatriarchal world in which there is no need for feminism. Spread pink thoughts.



Make a white monochrome painting. Meditate on the fullness of this monochrome white, its unbearable emptiness, its uncertain readings, its performative refusal.




Make a blue monochrome painting with two modulated tones of blue. Visualize links with others' blues, near and far, transnational connections through the vast sea of human suffering. Add a dose of humor. Listen to the Blues.





Additional Titles/Instructions:

Make a multichrome painting using many connecting monochrome units. Imagine these connections echoing across communities of artists, comprising a whole larger than the sum of its parts while exposing a striking variety of human moments of unease and mortality, disillusionment and hope.

Make an orange monochrome painting with an adjacent bluish grey. Consider the boundary between the two colors as a way to ponder the supposed contained clarity of self and the borders that define it.

Make a silver monochrome, a radiant "quicksilver." Contemplate how the self changes as it connects with others and, conversely, how others might change in return. Let it shine.

Make a monochrome painting with your own instructions.