Guest Post, Mary Shindell: Inflection Point ll

My working process is influenced by my experience and interaction with the world around me.

In my studio, I produce layered, linear works that relate the terrains of the desert and outer space. I use botanical imagery of plants collected around my studio in Phoenix and also from the Herbarium at ASU, where I photograph pressed plant specimens from the locations in Arizona where the planetary discoveries were made. In drawing the satellite images of Earth and Pluto, my focus is on the similarities of surface and texture between images of Earth and the dwarf planet Pluto. Pluto was discovered at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, and I have selected imagery from the Grand Canyon to represent the place of that discovery. After I combined the images, I placed a numbered grid on the surface, as pictured in the sequence of images that follow.


Detailed grid artwork, featuring stellar body laid over topographical map

Figure 1: Gridded satellite photographs composed by placing Pluto in the center of mirrored sections of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon


In process photo of transferring grid information from map to drawing

Figure 2: Here, I am using the numbered grid to draw each section from the satellite image.

Drawn piece, prepared for photograph.

Figure 3: In the above image, the hand-drawn piece is finished and digitally photographed. It will be printed as an archival Ink Jet print titled “Inflection Point II.”

Hand drawing with cacti digitally added to parts of the map and stellar body.

Figure 4: The digital drawing is then created using a combination of photographed and hand-drawn botanical images from the herbarium specimen pages. Pictured above is an early look at the process.

Close up picture of cactus

Figure 5: An enlarged example of the botanical elements in figure 4

Close up of cacti near both the Earth elements of the Grand Canyon and the map of Pluto

Figure 6: Finally, the analog drawing will be layered with drawings of plant specimens from the Grand Canyon. In this image, the plains of Pluto are on the right, the Grand Canyon’s rim is on the left, and plants from the North Rim region are suspended above the terrain.


As the above images illustrate, I will use the botanical elements to connect the experience of the planetary researcher with the sense of physical place from which the scientific research originated and to the physical world of the viewer. As a part of my ongoing concern for the relationship between space and detail in the environment, I am creating a connection between conventional landscape formats in art and the perspectives offered by the study of planets and outer space. By combining the two perspectives with detailed observations of plants, I am creating holistic landscapes that encompass the intimate and the vast. This connects information that we know but cannot see with the reality of the things we can see and touch.

Guest Post, Mary Shindell: Inflection Point

Inflection Point

There is always the inflection point in a drawing–the point at which it takes on its own presence and becomes more than its content. There is also the point where others view it and it becomes their image. I know that if I create art, these points will occur, and I can work to control part of the process leading up to these points.  Ultimately, however, not all of it is mine to control.

Today in my studio, I am establishing another inflection point–a point at which everything changes and the art acts in a new way. I want to isolate this point in an attempt to describe it visually. At this point, the conventional tools and techniques of drawing will meet the new digital tools of drawing. They will meet in the scan of an intricately hand-drawn image that was created specifically for this point. Then, they will part ways like the lines flanking an inflection point on a mathematician’s graph. From this point on, the scan will only exist in the computer because it will become part of a digital drawing; the original paper drawing will be continued from this point by adding layers of ink and graphite–it will no longer exist as it did at the inflection point.

I want the intimacy and precious nature of drawing to meet the new order. At that meeting point, the scan of the drawing will become an enduring memory, a snapshot of the original curve ending and a new one beginning.