Anne Lilly

Those familiar with my earlier kinetic sculptures may find this body of work to be a major departure. With watercolor, I was searching for a more forgiving way to work, yet one that would authentically extend from my existing vocabulary. Many of the same strategies were brought forward: grid, geometry, increments, repetition, precision, and finely-resolved detail that rewards close looking. The same intention is transmitted as well, awakening perceptions of absence, space, and emptiness. 

In sculpture this intention had involved reducing the visual mass to the merest of lines and probing a given zone of action in organic and mesmeric patterns. The sculptures were intricate and sensitive systems of movement, responsive to the slightest touch of the viewer, and they confounded understanding of what was happening. But making art in stainless steel through intensive industrial processes had come to feel like trying to practice yoga within a suit of armor. 

Working with watercolor over the last several years, I slowly realized that the flat surface of paper could be analogous to the fields of time and space, the “surface” of kinetic sculpture. It was possible to engage the emptiness of paper, through the quality and arrangement of the traces left upon it. 

Drawing and watercolor are exquisitely responsive to, and communicative of, touch. Rather than utilize and express the touch of the viewer, the work is now a record of my own. What has been shed in spatial richness and drama is exchanged for new “zones of action” — directness, subtlety, color, gradients, micro-marks, illusions of depth, spontaneity, nimbleness.