The other morning, I got the news that my mother’s partner in Italy showed symptoms of COVID-19. Of course, she’d been in close contact with him. This news was disquieting as I watched the Italian death toll rise to about 600 per day.
Considering the incubation period, it’d be at least a week before I could glean any news from them, good or bad. In the midst of the global shutdown, I had planned to use my newly-found free time to work on tattoo designs, but with my mother’s potential illness looming, I found it impossible to concentrate.
When I draw under normal conditions, my stroke is clean and linear. Ironically, “clean” and “linear” were two things my thinking was not; “muddied” and “serpentine” may have been more appropriate. At my desk, I felt the urgent need to focus on a rote, mechanical activity to get my thoughts under control. If I could not firmly dispatch the notion that I was not doing enough for my family, perhaps being firmly anchored to a task for hours, every day until my eyes hurt, would allow me to put it aside.
The permanence of ink on my sketchpad seemed intimidating, for fear that I might be forced to reckon with the record of these feelings at a later date. On my computer, I dug into a folder where I had downloaded crochet patterns and started tracing them on Photoshop, dot after dot after dot, arranged nicely into a grid until the latent image took shape. There was no need for creative license, no thought to originality, just progression towards the ends of my never-quite finished product.
For my needs, this largely sufficed. My thoughts became mediated by the meditative flow of one dot following the next. The reality of mechanical efficiency when producing pictures like these counterposed the human need for the extension of time; a slowing down of process in order to produce something whole; innately, and irreducibly, human.
In a feeble grasp towards productivity, I think I may keep the images for my portfolio, and even tattooed one on myself already. But they are still the flowers that blossomed into the cavernous, echoing hours of fear and detachment – although I hope that, as flowers, they will portend a spring we’ll see come into full bloom.