Time is a willow

Hollace M. Metzger has held guest appearances in three music albums to be released in 2011. She’s a lover of time and space because they are movement. She has exhibited her art in New York, Ohio, Kentucky, Brooklyn and Paris. She has a magnificent intellectual energy expressed in painting, poetry, music and architecture. After her recent poems published under the title Why the willow (2010) she’s now working on her first solo exhibition in Paris. Many projects that take her to new visions, new words full of new meanings and new sounds to understand the past and wonder about the present.

You are an architect, visual artist and poet, always searching new ways for expression. Where does your artistic impulse come from and where does it take you to?

It comes from the necessity to communicate and, more importantly, to exist in time. I suppose it also comes from an incessant need to be organized – order, geometry, finding modulars, you name it! In photography, I think I’m drawn towards moments where a person may be inspired to make a decision whether its about gravity, direction to travel... which is also symbolic to many questions in life. I do seek symbolism in photographs as well, more so making those symbols new symbols that could mean something personally, not quite as powerful as Van Eyck’s  Arnolfini. In painting, I leave realism to the experts as what I feel driven to find are new methods, new perspectives of what could be perceived on a cellular level, a microcosm, an urban plan or even a universe. It also connects to rhythm, why I often paint to music, and try to extract from my subconscious. What matters to me most is that it works well together, that its rhythm creates or reacts to other rhythms and – whatever form it may take – it’s resultant beauty lies in the fact that all components need to exist while vibrating off of other bodies, masses, forces and energies. Where it takes me is a surprise every time, but I know every new work results in me knowing myself better.

You completed your degree study with a thesis called “Kin-Aesthetic Fourth Dimension” and you’ve mentioned it as a life-study where you proposed architecture, experience and painting as a combined practice. Could you tell us the main idea behind your thesis?

My undergraduate thesis, yes. Kinetics, Aesthetics and Time remain important in my work. There is a long list of renowned architects who also painted and instead of this being extracurricular, it was necessary in their studies of space. I watched this dwindling since 3D became standard visualization around 2000, for selling, and now I feel tangible discovery is something lost in today’s professional world.  You can also see this with youth and video games.
Furthermore, my study involves what something appears to be, what we as humans are attracted to follow out of curiosity and this motivating our mobility, to move through and interact with space and objects defining space, becoming a part of it. Again, its the question posed (confrontation with planar objects, void, etc.) that results in a decision, thus incorporating human psychology into the mix as well.
I think a brief review of Cubism and Futurism would explain what I mean about objects in space over a time sequence. When there are represented start-points and end-point in a path of movement, one often looks between to understand the story, and this “between” represents a specific time frame. Diagrammatically, you can see this in the vesica pisces for example, what is shared among those experiences. This may be specific, but formal connectivity, fluidity, is what interested me in art and eventually led to thinking of it on a greater scale, as in one’s life and the natural transformation of self.

Transparency is a recurring concept in your works, from your thesis to your poetry and the poem “For I, Wish” is a perfect example of that: “Sight unseen, these dreams lead to transparent heavenly lights cusping ever-present darkness in opacity, to night-time’s rooms without walls -On the edge of day and night, to remain, always. For I wish to be still from this distance, with the possibility of traversing boundaries when need be, or traveling, sidling its circumference where I will see only totality, all forests for trees.” Do you think we all have a strictly materialist life’s concept and perception?

I think the evolution of transparency in my work is rooted in a desire for truth, as in poetry disclosing many truths of an author even if they are not blatantly stated. “Sidling (a) circumference” represents a personal desire to maintain a good view of the whole, to never fall comfortably into one classification or train of thought while remaining open-minded. 
Transparency also allows us to reflect backwards and forward in time, both of which I am a proponent. More importantly, it allows for these views while understanding and celebrating where we are now. The mysteriousness , or “translucency”, of what lies ahead keeps me moving forward while what lies in the midst, memory, becomes more and more hazed-over.
I think this is also why I’m opposed to digital alterations in documenting a place. By bending low, looking backwards, reflecting... perhaps others will have the inspiration to see differently, appreciating life more while also realizing they don’t need to leave the natural world in order to do it. Either he/she needs to have a different perspective of life or, simply, move a little bit.
Regarding materialism, I think trends have pushed humanity into its comfortable loft embracing its social adaptations with silk pillows. Unless we change our attraction to it, cease applause for those who do and realize what is most important in life, we will continue to devalue it with more and more “things”. I think man is a collector and this does make him lovely., but when that collection begins to contain objects that are not really his, just to compare his curio cabinet with another, then I don’t really understand the point of it.

Another of your poems, “In passing”, ends with a deep reflection about love and life as poetry in passing. Is real love present in ordinary life?

This particular poem is time-specific and situational. I’m often documenting moments that have happened, emotions that may or may not come again. If I have a list of every possible emotion in the end, then I will consider it all a success, not necessarily for me but for others. Thinking why I read books... so that others may read and say, “Yeah, I know what she’s talking about...” Then, smile or not feel as if they are an island. I think society loves as it has learned to love, or how it has adapted to respond to such sentiment in their brain. So, yes, I think man loves. I am not so confident he or she will always express it in a way where any other will understand. And this is why it was “passing”. It was another personal relationship with another where communicative love just wasn’t possible, my realization of it. This poem was also written when a close relative had died, so I paralleled the two and ended it by saying that a life, a love, will be – at the conclusion of the poem – passed. And it was.

For if you decide not to exist, do not invite me into your life. Do not falsify your ability to love, to live, to learn, to give.” It’s an extract from your poem “No other way”. Is society based on false premises created by beings jailed by their own fears?

Yes. Well, it’s not so simple really, but my opinion is: I do feel many beings are jailed by their own fears in addition to learned sociology – aged children in adult skin, if you will. If we could negate both, I think we could progress as a more unified world. However, I now know I cannot blame someone for being all they know to be, but I’ve said my peace before I walked away and that’s what a lot of my intimate poetry is about. Perhaps then, the person I am speaking to and others will at least think about it and make a different decision from their own logic and experience, which would be the “Other Way”. I think its also important to appreciate every “new day” for what it is – never anything that has happened before. That day can bring proof that previous fears should be no longer, that anything could be seen differently.

Is life full of boundaries that restrict our existence or an open space to discover?

I think my friends and family would say that I am not the person to ask this question to.
I am as stubborn as they come, when I believe there is an answer somewhere or that an obstacle can be overcome. Yes, life is full of many, many boundaries. Where to not find the fissure that cannot be traversed on earth, or how to learn a new way to jump it is yet to be determined. I also have found that intimidation and a lack of drive is the greatest enemy to most – not the actual obstacle. Our existence is only restricted in our lack of belief in ourselves. There remain open spaces to discover, perhaps they just take form as something we did not expect or predetermine from studying a textbook.

Why the willow?

Because it may appear saddened, yet I was offering a new viewpoint: Perhaps it is reflecting in its own tears to see its own beauty and the beauty in detail, of the things around it which serve as its seasonally-changing backdrop and in it’s life-composition. This is explained in the conclusion of the poem. I think it was my way to say to readers (as poets, romantics, creatives, empaths, etc. are often categorized to be melancholic) to take another look at what they see, categorize, or write off. Life isn’t so easy and there are beautiful souls to befriend, to know. However, they may not be fully bloomed, erect, or bearing fruit!
This was the last poem written – when asking myself a very personal question – which, wherever the pen wanted to take me on that day, would also be the title of the book.
It also reconnected the text to my art, what I was focusing on that year in photographs and painting, even architecture – “reflecting”, a lack of gravity and possible euphoria in a state of “weightlessness”. There are of course many biological and reproductive details about the tree that attracted me to it, but mainly it was because of its stature., symbolically. Other poems in the book also reference youth passing and maturity which were on my mind as well.

What’s beauty?

One thing I’ve learned is that one’s definition of beauty changes over time. I think beauty is truth, honesty, sensitivity – making the most of a person’s, object’s, place’s or idea’s content. I think it is taking primary colors and discovering what can be made with them, metaphorically speaking. Beauty can be found in anything, but it is our responsibility to observe it from afar, in totality, or closely under a microscope. Again, it is truth, not a mask.

A knife is an essential instrument in your visual work in which you create an interesting link between painful and beauty. Evolution is directly linked to violence?

It is a painter’s knife, really. With a regular brush, one experiences sensations of pulling and pushing. The knife is only a pushing motion, its paint needs to be allowed on the canvas in different speeds, but mostly in a regular stroke, like drafting with an architect’s flat-tip pen which takes practice to evenly distribute. What this does is allow more precision and control, for me. Shortly after I turned 30, I experienced a cerebral stroke which left my body paralyzed for about ten minutes. The only side-effect from that was nerve damage which caused my drawing hand to be less sensitive on the palm’s surface. This, of course, was no trouble if I wanted to continue drawing buildings with a computer mouse for the rest of my life, but I wanted more than that. I think life’s little warnings cause us to put a lot into perspective, however unfortunate they may be, and I took this incident as a sign that I may not have what I do have forever.
People have taken the feminist position that my paintings are extracted from pain, a fight, rape, etc. But, I think they are created with direct movement, strong and weak thoughts. I’ve been using canvases with the girth of an arm span, as if I were to make a snow angel  - defining my space, human space, as did Davinci with Vitruvian Man, Le Corbusier with Le Modulor. When doing this to music, a rhythmic  time period – a dance, if you will – is documented. If cutting a canvas is a subconscious, painful memory sketch, then what I hope to create with that is a combination of details that have made me what I am and, in their intricacy, construct something new altogether – fractals, for example. And, no, paintings are not directly linked to violence although surely some cuts are. An artist’s canvas changes as he/she does and throughout the creation-life of a work, I know it is experiencing my peace, wrath, memories and hopes among other emotions.  The canvas knows your truth, nobody else, really.

I think your life concept is a fluid existence in a perpetual potential transformation but your visual work is full of lines. There are a lot of geometrical figures mixed with some vegetal inspiration. Is that your own vision of our fight for existence?

I have always questioned man and machine, technology and nature into the super-natural. I think after the Industrial Revolution and through the Technological Revolution it is our responsibility to learn from these innovative periods and to balance how much of our time is dedicated to what is new versus to what is and has been that works. Perhaps we may find ourselves not at the forefront of popularity and technology (there are already those who have committed themselves to this), but we could find ourselves at the forefront of thought as modern-day thinkers, philosophers and such. Technology will not progress us as a nation, culture, world if we are progressed individually, yet alone in doing it. So, I like to look at the details of things that have remained through time, the origin (nature), and understand larger concepts about existence and survival from them. Often the answers to many questions can be found in something so simple. 

Does your world really exist?

My world exists as much as your world but what makes the world so different is how each of us sees it, how we’ve decided to approach it and how bright the sun really is. The poem “My World Exists” explains personal experiences throughout a lifetime in different countries, how I felt while experiencing them while it also may reveal how some of those experiences were not what others had had in similar situations. The poem with its title, using myself as an exemplary “case study”, simply shows how we all have different perceptions, and also how that should be respected. I wrote it in Brooklyn, where I had lived while planning a return to Europe. I needed to express that the memories I had of places I wished to be a part of again, and those that touched me deeply, remained – I was a New Yorker, but I was collectively other places too.

The willow will be always with us because its tears are ours drawing the trace of our existence.

Interview by Juan Carlos Romero
Photos by Hollace M. Metzger