Zachary Davis Mory

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24 Circles and Diamonds, 2014

graphite on paper, 65" x 224"


At the beginning of each drawing in this series, I create a set of rules. Generally, these rules define the size of the piece, how the graphite mark is to be made, and what the predetermined shape of the drawing will be. For instance, a set of rules for a drawing might read as follows:

“A radiating circle drawn on a 21” x 21” piece of paper using a back and forth motion to make a mark which will form a line that is approximately a quarter inch in diameter. The line will change randomly, yet smoothly, between dark and light tones until it has reached the established distance from the outer edges of the page.”

By using simple shapes such as a circle and diamond, I am able to pare the creative process down to its essential elements, focusing exclusively on the variations of the mark within each drawing and the outcome. While this process of working creates images that might resemble things we see in the world (such as the stars or a tree), I am not interested in literal image creation and these associations are accidental.

Though each piece begins with a highly restrictive system, I am still able to coax something human out of the process and reach a unique conclusion by infusing those initial idea/rules with time and labor. It is a safe path, yet uncomfortable and surprisingly unpredictable.

This series also deals with the illusion of control and the solace found in repetitive mark making. Each drawing requires large amounts of actual labor, which makes them both physically and psychologically challenging. I get bored, I rush, I bargain and cut corners, I make mistakes, and so on. Conversely, I find solace in the familiarity of the process. The ritual-like mark making is tedious and therapeutic, providing me an escape from the world. Though so much of this series is predetermined, I never know how a drawing will finish. Like our lives, we try to control and shape our environment, yet it is never truly possible.

In the end, each drawing is a meditation on the past versus the present, freedom versus rules, finding beauty in the mundane and solace in ritual. These drawings are a quiet conversation between concrete rules and the more fluid, human impulse for creation and control.

Artworks by Zachary Davis Mory

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