artist statement on The Cartography of Silence

The Cartography of Silence
 a solo show of works on paper by Tess Mosko Scherer

The title of this show comes from a line in the book, ‘When Women Were Birds’ by Terry Tempest Williams. Through 54 short, lyrical chapters, Williams explores the question ‘what does it mean to have a voice?’  Reading this book touched me in a familiar yet profound way as a seeker of my own voice, or expression, as an artist, a woman and a global citizen. As a Transformational Life Coach I work with women who seek to find or reconnect with their voices, be it for themselves or to champion a cause.

The work explores the paradox of Silence; the complexities of staying silent, being still, and listening. Silence is not an absence; it is charged with meaning and action. Exploring silence means to speak of a multitude of paradoxes, considering the power drawn from the stillness of nature, meditation, or words left unspoken. My hope is to create an invitation for you to explore your relationship with silence – be it alone or with others.  Do you feel like you have to fill the silence of your home or mind with music or tv in the background? Can you sit with another and not say a word or are you scouring your mind for something to say? Can you find your Silence?  When are you comfortable or uncomfortable with Silence?

I dove into creating this work in March after returning from Bangladesh where I experienced a constant cacophony of sounds resounding day and night.  Generally, when in my studio, I listen to TedTalks, Audiobooks, or music while I work.  Returning to my studio, I worked in silence. Enjoying the stillness and hearing the underpinnings of my home, studio, and yard.  Acknowledging my thoughts and then releasing them for a deeper level of Silence while I worked.

The process of making the work is as significant and symbolic as the finished work itself.  While I worked in Silence, I allowed the work to unfold guided by my hands and something beyond myself.  The crumpled-ness of the paper represents the difficult terrain of our inner-worlds where we confront the light and shadow aspects of ourselves. With roots in the book arts, paper has been a primary material for me to explore the fragilities of life’s complexities. Each piece starts as a blank sheet of paper that is torn, soaked and sometimes peeled apart. The paper curls and folds in reaction, much like how our own lives are shaped by events, beliefs, and emotions. The thread symbolizes the holding on or the letting go of ideas, emotions, people or events. I use pastels to add the color.