On Pulled Loose


My paintings are based upon diagrammatic drawings made by J. Harold Zoller; a civil engineer, my paternal grandfather, and a man I never knew.  He made them as a student in the mid-1940’s before his service in the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII.  In their original context, they functioned as graphic equations to determine varying stresses and movements that structures would undergo when built.  The drawings are disciplined, austere, and above all else, practical and purposeful.  For those who knew him, these drawings reflect a man who personified the same characteristics within his own life.  


As I trace, transfer, and transform these drawings, I feel a connection – a communication even, with a man gone a decade before my birth.  


Layering heavy, transparent material over these diagrams creates a physical barrier and a distance between it and the viewer.  This entombment creates a remove, a displacement.  Any further attempts to alter it only serves to further obscure and increase its distance.  It becomes a metaphor for the types of distance and displacement that loss creates.  The material qualities embody the hazy and filtered manner in which memory operates.


An excerpt of my father’s poem Life Map reads,


        Then my father vanished into the foothills.


        He had pulled loose somehow.


        I imagined for a time he had become a mountain


        or maybe a ridge above timber line he had once surveyed.


        Now I imagine he is a range of rugged peaks


        in the Wyoming Rockies. Snow smokes up to show us where.