Posted by: Xhyra Graf | 18 February 2007

Layers of Experience Series

Layers of Experience #4 Originally uploaded by Xhyra Graf.

This series of nine took me about a year to complete. Mixed media including pencil, pastels, watercolour, acrylic, latex, tulle and china markers.  In the stretched and peeled back layers lies the visual representation of my thoughts and lived experience as transferred to the canvas.

I was thinking of the time/memory/experience thing and remembered the process I set for myself with this work… or rather the process that came about after I set the initial parameters.

I had decided to start and work on all the canvases at once and worked each layer with the same media, starting with watercolour washes, until I thought it was time to move on to another media or method. After the MarChrist Collection [books which had no writing] I had taken to writing…complete thoughts purposefully broken up…on goat skins [some of which are in the collection], paper, fabric.  I would make sure that no words were place on the writing surface in the order that they came – like a collage where the words were only shapes, placed where they could fit. Or if they came fast enough where  it physically felt rhythmic and right. My reason was that I was only writing for the action of putting together the thoughts at that time – the physical action of reviewing, repositioning or releasing them from my mind.  I had no intention of ever reading what I wrote and I was in the height of allowing my self to deal with my “word disgust”.  They just sucked, could convey none of the things that were really important, people constantly misinterpreted them and they have never throughout my life matched exactly to a speaker’s body language; there was always some underlying thing that conflicted with or simply ‘spoke’ of something other than what they were saying.

Journals to this day are all over the place…unfinished, unread.

So I wrote within and between each media layer; first with pencils then with the china markers toward the end.  The pastels were put on the canvas and rubbed and blended.  The latex was put on in layers, sometimes to only to position the tulle, and written over or rubbed, stretched, torn… I never tried to read what had been written before.  Even if I had the desire to, I had made sure the words were just another part of the work by the method of randomly dispersing them throughout the canvas.

It was for the physical act of making time, of clearing memories, of processing thoughts & feelings.  I imagined that this was how it worked..things happened, made their mark in some way within my brain that I had no conscious access to except in the flashed and oftentimes disconnected memory of a word or image; but it formed a layer of experience… a layer of experience which I had no choice but to work with and over.  I had to work with what was there; even in stretching or trying to remove areas it was still an already existing thing that I had to take into account and deal with as different areas, each canvas and the entires series was changed through my interactions with them.

layers1Layers of Experience #1

layers2Layers of Experience #2

layers3Layers of Experience #3

layers5Layers of Experience #5


  1. […] aged and damaged thing. But hey, I know different. Instead of simply accepting all of the layers, I can actually really peel some off  or surgically excise them and not have the worry that I am […]

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