The installation that I call “Decameron” started three weeks into the lockdown although really it started when I was a child. We had no money, so if you wanted something, you didn’t buy it, you made it. My mother was very creative, always coming up with ideas and assignments for us. Cardboard was a favorite material and my sister and I spent many hours folding, cutting, shaping, drawing and painting it. Later, when I was teaching, cardboard became a material I used in some of my drawing classes. It came in large sheets (3’x6’) and could provide students with an inexpensive excursion right into scale. I didn’t work with it myself because it wasn’t permanent. Recently, having turned 80 and being sequestered, it occurred to me that I wasn’t particularly permanent either, but wanted and needed to work and so I began.
The first assays were with what I had on hand and there were plenty of cardboard sheets in my storage area. I began to paint on them with wide washy lines. The way the material received the paint was gorgeous. After a while and guided by the lines, I began to cut the cardboard. Unexpected shapes announced themselves. Somewhere along the way, I realized that being guided by the lines had become a rule and was holding me back. The rule went out the window and I reentered the world of cardboard with abandon. Abandon is a sometimes guest, always welcome and never subject to command. I’d got lucky. The shapes grew wild, then wilder—animate, eccentric—creatures from another world.
I then decided to take this huge pile of shapes I’d made and place them on the wall. The original idea was to fill the wall from floor to ceiling, but once I began tacking them up, I saw that the horizontal movement formed in the initial part of the assembly had a strength and presence of its own. The wall itself, no longer a mere surround, had entered the frenzy and a procession declared itself. Shapes moved in a rapid and musical march accompanied by large dollops of comedy. It was a choreography. It was a narrative. We were escaping, all of us, from the Plague. It was the “Decameron.”