A Catalogue of Rare Movements
"Part satire, part whimsy, Rare Movements is like Calvino's Invisible Cities applied to the art world: inventive, self-contained synopses of various ways to resist tradition."
—Anthony Doerr, author of The Shell Collector and About Grace
"The forms are beautifully complex as well as the literary analysis of the various movements...an inventive, collaborative exploration of the concept of 'freedom' as it applies to the creative process."
—James G. Davis, artist
from the introduction:
“With the sense of the splendor of our experience and of its awful brevity, gathering all we are into one desperate effort to see and touch, we shall hardly have time to make theories about all we see and touch.”
Making art is hard. The empty page or canvas seems limitless and glorious, one of the few places where anything can happen. But the moment a word is written or a mark made, what can happen is suddenly—violently—limited. A line is a barrier, and words silence all other words that could have been said. To commit to a course of action in art is, paradoxically, to commit to not-doing the infinite anything else. Making art is the bold relinquishing of possibility.
In the larger world of art, every art movement is a theory of how to get free—how to get free of the influence of earlier artists, how to get free of public expectation, and how to get free of the limitations of what one has already done. In the insular world of this Catalogue, each of our art movements likewise describes how a drawing tried to transcend itself. The following work is an example of what can happen within, or as a result of, narrow constraints. Each drawing was created using a strict set of rules: they were collaboratively drawn with the same pens, using a postcard-sized rectangle as a starting point. The box is the first limitation, the other person’s contribution another.
Within this insular process, the subtitles, deviations, and variations took on particular import. A Catalogue of Rare Movements depicts twenty-four art movements that flourished and flared out in this tight space of possibility. Each drawing itself became a theory of art, rising up and burning out within the course of its creation. But by the time each art movement was identified, it was already obsolete, and only another drawing could get us free of it.
Curtis A. Rhodes’ background as an artist has spanned over four decades. He has a BFA in Painting from University of Kansas and an MFA in Painting from Ohio University. He began teaching painting, drawing, printmaking and art history at Western Michigan University in the late sixties. Throughout his career, he has done commission projects with Twin rocker and Jinn paper mill in Frankfurt, Germany, designing and producing paper for book projects. As a master printmaker, he has printed fine art lithographs for a select group of painters and sculptors. His prints, drawings and paintings have been exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is held in several public and private collections. In 2003 he was Artist in Residence at Hill End, N.S.W Australia, and he returned to exhibit a group of mixed-media works based on his experience there. He is interested in the intersections of contemporary and primal cultures, and his work can be found at www.curtisarhodes.com
Monica McFawn is a writer living in Michigan. McFawn has an MFA in Poetry, but her interests extend into fiction, theory, visual art and performance. She has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in several journals, including Conduit, Conjunctions, Poetry Salzburg Review and Bookslut. McFawn has also taught writing and humanities at several schools in the West and Midwest, including University of Arizona and Albion College in Michigan. She created www.litandart.com, a website devoted to exploring the intersections between visual and literary arts. McFawn is currently at work at a book of short stories and prose poems titled The Pattern.