Corliss Chastain

Creating art is like improvisational Jazz. There is more to it than improvisation!

"In Jazz, improvisation isn't a matter of just making any ol' thing up.
Jazz, like any language, has its own grammar and vocabulary. There's
no right or wrong, just some choices that are better than others."
- Wynton Marsalis

Jazz improvisation is the process of spontaneously creating fresh melodies over the continuously repeating cycle of chord changes of a tune. Like the musician, the artist may depend on the contours of an initial composition or concept, or solely on the possibilities of the harmonies. It has been said that the best improvised music sounds composed, and that the best composed music sounds improvised. “Composed” and “improvised” may seem to be incongruent. In my mixed media monorints and paintings, as with Jazz, they merge in a unique mix - inspired by the original content and composition.

The original impulse that drives me to begin most images is a narrative or story. Personal, social and global justices are recurring themes in my work. Although the story is essential to the development of the initial, formal structure and inspires symbolic, iconic imagery, the process ultimately translates, transforms, and obscures it. Once the work is under way, the artwork often takes on a life of its own: Texture, images, text and color are layered, inscribed, stenciled, imbedded and obliterated - creating rich, complex surfaces. The narrative succumbs to the synthesis of process and materials, and the finished piece eclipses the story. The politics of color, form, texture and materials become metaphoric. Symbols are reassigned new meaning and rich, complex surfaces emerge inviting closer inquiry.

“Nothing is a mistake…there’s no win, and there’s no fail…There’s only make.” - John Cage