365 days in 1×1 square inches
The Squares Project began in August 2008, my first summer after graduating from college. I was living in my college town trying to find work. I had just turned 24 & didn’t really know how I’d gotten there. Hadn’t I just been 20? 16? 3? Time was mysterious to me. What made it “pass”? Who were we yesterday & who are we today? How do we track our growth, our changes? Time felt elusive, often unfair & utterly uncontrollable. The only way I know to deal with questions of the heart is with art & so I decided to fill in 1×1 inch square of white space a day.
I didn’t know how long I’d go for. I set up one page full of squares & began. When I began, I didn’t know I’d fill in a full year. The squares became my friends, reliable, clocks, compasses, wind in my hair. They represent p o t e n t i a l. They held me. No matter if I was tired, bored, elated, depressed, in physical pain – I filled my squares each night. They were my companions. My closest friends all knew about them. A square – small, empty place – became my refuge, a secret safe exploration I could return to each night, no matter how my day had gone. It was a relief – to see my days. To see how a life could not be summed up, but stretched. To witness many pearls making a necklace. To be more alert to space & scraps & potential for art-making during my days. Often I’d save a tea-bag wrapping or tear an old magazine to shreds & fill my square.
Looking back 6 years later – what did I learn from the experiment? I’m not exactly certain. I know that I know more about ritual. About self-care through daily making, private making. Time is built of ritual. The things we do. Prioritize. Leave. Lose. Pictures give us room to be speechless, & I am so often speechless. I look at my squares & so often I see a moment I wasn’t able to synthesize in words, or communicate out loud. I see fear given another language: a ball of tangled yarn. I see silence & hope spelled in illegible constellations & grace in keeping scraps. There is a marvel at the simultaneous whole & individuality of it – 366 squares, a year in pictures. Life is like this, isn’t it? Seemingly disparate. Many parts. Many partings. The squares have been collecting dust on my bookcase in a black envelope labeled “SQUARES.”
For my 30th birthday I want nothing more than to put these little portraits & landscapes & pains & joys into flight. To share them with you. You too are spaciousness, small & longing. Thank you for visiting. Take a look around. Find yesterday. Find your birthday. Take your time. Here’s to our little ways of getting through, our seeds, our masterings of loneliness, our birds when words won’t do.
Yours in flight,