Artists on Diaries: Sungraphs Moons and Portraits of Days

By the Archives

January 14, 2015

This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices.

— Archives of American Art Blog editors

 

Dairy of Helen Torr Dove and Arthur Dove
Helen Torr Dove and Arthur Dove diary, 1936. Arthur and Helen Torr Dove papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

 

One of my favorite images from A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, is Helen Torr Dove and Arthur Dove’s diary from 1936. Dove made colored spheres which may signify the phases of the moon, and also noted the temperature and barometric pressure the Doves were experiencing. These entries made me think of another artist I admire, Nancy Brooks Brody, who has agreed to be the next contributor to the “Artists on Diaries” series. In Nancy’s diaristic works Sungraphs, Moons and Portraits of Days, she systematically, meticulously, and poetically records her experience of light on specific days.

— Mary Temple, Artists on Diaries series curator

 

Sungraphs Moons and Portraits of Days


December 2014

Nancy Brooks Brody

Nancy Brooks Brody, SunGraphs May 2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 28, 2005. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, SunGraphs May 2, 3, 8, 9, 16, 28, 2005. Used with permission.

 

working in the woods outside of daily life

feels like lots of time to the day itself

1440 minutes make a grid 38 x 38 — minus 4 places

each day in the may of 2005 i marked the days — the minutes of sunlight of that day

in may the days get longer — some days by one minute some by two or more at either end

i drew my grid in heavy pencil and colored in the squares

leaving blank where the sun was in transit

it was spring so i used the first colors to return

and through the month i spanned the color spectrum — the rainbow

red to violet

all there found

around me

marking time was grounding — i was alone in the wood

at night when the sun was gone my last task was these marks

 

Nancy Brooks Brody, SunGraph, May 18, 2005, detail. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, SunGraph, May 18, 2005, detail. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, SunGraph, May 26, 2005, detail. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, SunGraph, May 26, 2005, detail. Used with permission.

 

home back to life ive made others

charting a special day

i might look back to past records of a day

in one piece i mark my fathers birthday and deathday august 19 1929

and november 12 1996

march 31 2011 I made i made a graph that showed only the minutes of light (756)

made in cut mirrored pieces of tape — reflecting all light and the room it sits in

Nancy Brooks Brody, BirthDay DeathDay, 2009. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, BirthDay DeathDay, 2009. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, Mirror SunGraph, March 31, 2011. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, Mirror SunGraph, March 31, 2011. Used with permission.

 

these last years ive been making Portraits of Days

they have three parts

using painted metal embedded into the wall or a wood panel

the moon phase is the black and the white

its measure depends on its waning or its waxing

light passing across the part of the moon that we see from earth

the color is a measure and a memory of the day

something from that day something seen and left

embedded into memory

Nancy Brooks Brody, Moon 4, (waning), 2013, detail. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, Moon 4, (waning), 2013, detail. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, March Moon 11, (new), 2013, detail. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, March Moon 11, (new), 2013, detail. Used with permission.

the sea

the road

trees

sand

sky

elements laid out like trigrams

 

moon waning crescent — green for the love of gardening we shared

moon waning half — blue birthdays and water

moon waxing sliver — road river tree and sky

moon new — resting

moon full

Nancy Brooks Brody, G is for Garden, (waning), 2013. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, G is for Garden, (waning), 2013. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, Blue Circle I, 2006. Used with permission.
Nancy Brooks Brody, Blue Circle I, 2006. Used with permission.

 

light is the gift — darkness infinite

appearing and disappearing in charted cycles

geometry and numbers — counting and measure

bodies move in space together and apart

 

leaning in leaning on

moving

 

Nancy Brooks Brody is a visual artist who was born and raised in Manhattan and grew up on the Upper West Side in the 1960s and 70s. She has lived in various New York City neighborhoods including SoHo, East Harlem, the meat-packing district, and the lower east side, where she lived in the 80s and 90s before moving to Brooklyn. Her paintings, drawings, and sculptures have been shown at many galleries and institutions, including New Math, Andrea Rosen, Exit Art, Virgil de Voldere, the Brooklyn Museum, White Columns, FRAC Haute — Normandie and most recently Andrew Kreps. Her artwork has been reviewed in publications including Art in America, The New York Times, Time Out/New York, the Village Voice and The Sun.

The exhibition A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art is on view through February 28, 2015 in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture (8th and F Streets NW, Washington, D.C.). Admission is free.