In these drawings, I present ideas about the complex forces of experience and relationship. Each drawing presents forms methodically tied or unraveling, gathered or escaping from bonds. They exist in environments of energetic celebration or shadowy menace. The forms act as characters experiencing events that bind and pull apart. The drawings describe elemental tying and untying, doing and undoing, boundaries, bondage and escape. The deceptively simple graphite line is tied and bunched with other lines. I collect the lines, gather and contain them on the page. The resulting forms appear in varied stages of tightness and looseness. The wound and unwinding forms have a totemic presence; iconic tableaux of objects that suggest human form without being truly figurative. Some of the tied sheaf forms are like a strange, organic crop, something harvested, the product of an agricultural process. Some forms have mechanical characteristics reminiscent of industrial manufacturing.

The drawings evolved from an installation I created at Mobius Artists Group in May of 1999. Part of the installation included branches and twigs I gathered, grouped and tied with vines and grasses. As I created these elements for the installation, I started a series of drawings, using graphite on paper, of bunched and tied forms that were reminiscent of the sheaves I had made. I have continued to use the gathered and tied forms in the drawings and enjoy the way the forms evoke a figurative presence on the page. Gothic and Renaissance religious paintings depict important religious figures organized in “gatherings”. The figures exist in shallow pictorial space acting out a theatrical version of a life event and its consequences. The placement of the forms in my drawings can evoke a remembrance of these paintings. In the drawings the grouped forms suggest relationship or group activity. They may have a celebratory quality or seem quiet and solemn. The environment around the forms places them in varied contexts. Energetic vines and strings may engulf the tied, entwined forms or shadows may surround them. In some of the drawings the tied forms have wire-like lines that attach them. The lines act as steadying, guy wires and mysterious restraints attached to something off the page. These “hardware” or mechanical elements assert an unseen force that increases a sense of menace in some of the drawings.

I want the forms to be mysterious. They are bound yet float. They are engaged in the uncertain process of being tied and undone. I group the forms on the page suggesting relationship or isolation, reflecting complex interactions. I contemplate these interactions as I would a piece of theater unfolding before me.

—Elizabeth Strasser