by D. F. BROWN
In this new series of pen and ink drawings, Penny Cerling has moved out of her garden and into the deep reaches of the cosmos and layers our oldest measure for time, the sun dial, over our newest and wildest notions about the construction of the universe - Black Holes and Big Bangs. It is a vast, poetic space. And, as if that were not quite far enough, Cerling turns around and lines a voyage into the molecular foundations of matter - Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, the essential molecules of being human beings. This is a place science and art meet or perhaps where they never parted. In this arena, human concerns and the scale that bears them intersect a science bent to its explanations. Meaning, perhaps, the scale of our lives is now geared to things so big or so small we cannot see and must imagine them.
Penny Cerling moves the big rocks around. Her time machines place the face of solar time (a grid that measures shadows slipping as if to say time passing was only a daylight deal) over and against representations of cosmological theory of origin and endings that involve light years and regions vast as if to say steady observation might answer an old and vexing set of ontological questions like Why here? What do we mean? Where are we going?
Penny Cerling loves lines: the graceful curving grid of the sundial face, the rippled vortex of black holes, energy streams draining into worm holes, the mechanics of sub molecular activity, and the rhythmic coils of knot theory are rendered with precision. One wants to say delicate but these lines exude a gristle tenacious sense of purpose that leaves one thinking true as in plumb. Cerling offers the view across these reaches in layers of stressed and sanded gesso in creamy white to pink on board. This part is true - the ink floats over the gesso and under drawings as intricate diagrams for thinking out relationships with time and matter. In this ragged era of half shadow consciousness gone commercial, perhaps, we need new reference lines to mark out path and our passage.