Buffy Cribbs on her ART
I started painting on the reverse side of Plexiglas in the mid nineteen ninety’s. At that time I was doing mostly figurative work, exploring the sense of isolation that I felt stalked some women and girls. The pictures, though colorful and lively, often depicted females bonding with pets- or familiars, to whom they could tell their secrets. The scenes usually occurred in rooms and these interiors were fairly detailed, with furniture, wainscoting, windows, etcetera. When I felt I had fully explored that loneliness or- perhaps, moved on- I began exploring the space. I took my experience as a builder and designer and gave it over to the artistic image. Now, I was looking at these spaces without the distraction of the lonely persons, and the rooms and spaces began to tell their own stories.
Thus began a series of work, which I called “The Golden Age”- referring to the time in an artist’s life when the children have moved out of the nest, but one still has the health and energy to pursue new and interesting ideas- I also started using “gold” paint in interesting ways to add an ethereal aura, and I stepped out into a new realm, exploring interior space as a sort of specter spectator. I found that by removing the “subject”, the human, I was more able to get a sense of real “feeling” or “mood” or “emotion”, and in fact these paintings really did move some people.
When I saw the book that was compiled to accompany the “Gee’s Bend” exhibition of quilts (“The Quilts of Gee’s Bend”, Tinwood Books, 2002) I made a detour from the architectural explorations to play with color and pattern and composition. I got some good paintings, but began to feel somewhat limited by the flatness of what I was creating. At this time I was also still doing work for Mukilteo Coffee Company, the flagship premises of which I have had the pleasure to design and fabricate. Gary Smith, owner and operator of MCC had asked me to create some panels for the walls above the coffee machines as a permanent installation.
I decided to see if I could project the sense of “lift” that can be had from coffee, but I wanted to keep a sort of organic drift to it, so I thought of “effervescence”. This is when I began to play with circles, (or discs- thinking about music, which is a central theme to the coffee shop)- in clusters, and breaking loose from clusters, and finally, flying free. The panels were a big success, and I began to think I was on to something. I had gotten the message, and it was from the “O”racle.
Of course, the deep and myriad symbolism of the circle is attributed in every culture and mythology, so this will not be a discussion about any specific “meaning”. But of all symbols, the circle is perhaps the most self-explanatory; in it’s simple/ complex incorporation of time and space.
I began to find that the contemplation of circles, cycles, spirals, orbs - which were all around me everywhere in nature and in my dishwasher, and in the way that we perceive our universe and our molecules and atoms- had a calming effect on me, at the same time as pointing out the very most dynamic and fundamental aspects of existence.
However, the geometric perfection of the idea: “circle” is rarely captured in nature -most orbits and all sand dollars are a little wobbly. In fact evolution itself seems to me to be a product of small imperfections or anomalies that create diverse approaches to environments which are themselves evolving in response to anomalous changes.
And so my circles bob and weave, adrift in the firmament of time and space and perception, maybe they’re just looking for a home.