James Drake: Anatomy of Drawing and Space (Brain Trash) is the result of a two year commitment on the artist’s part to making at least one drawing every day. The resulting 1,242 drawings, each numbered in a chronological progression, take the viewer on a trip through the artist’s mind, with musings on topics from architecture to space travel, scientific formulas to poetry, and from artworks by masters from centuries past to the elaborate sign language of prison inmates and their visitors in El Paso, Texas, today.
Broken down into ten chapters, the drawings either function independently or are massed together to create a huge image, such as a crow, a flying skeleton, a gathering storm or a voluptuous female nude. Insects and animals feature prominently, with spiders and crows making repeat appearances. Phrases and words are presented in elaborate scripts or classical lettering, sharing a poetic message such as, “Can we know the sound of forgiveness,” or a simple word like “patience.” Death and violence are represented with skulls and weapons, even of mass destruction, while life is celebrated throughout, often in heartening portraits of friends and loved ones.
Merging the two seamlessly, Drake’s overall montage reminds us of life’s both dramatic and mundane beauty, and that wonder and awe should never wane.