Project Description

Alder Suttles

My recent work is inspired by a book I found in a junk shop in Brooklyn, NY—a 1938 American Red Cross instructional manual on swimming and diving. There are chapters on entering the water for the first time, on floating, on treading water, etc. I was fascinated with how someone could learn to swim by reading. I imagined a woman lying on the floor of her high-rise apartment: Outside her window taxis honk, men yell, kids play, sirens scream, and balls bounce on concrete. She lies on her stomach on the floor, book open wide, trying to understand the breaststroke.

At the time, I was in an abusive relationship. I made the first painting in our apartment. I was channeling the woman swimming on her floor, dreaming of a way to flee. The contradictions of the ocean are real and many. Terrifying, peaceful, vast, and intimate. When my skin touches water, I feel both connected to everything on earth and as if I’ve made my greatest escape into solitude.

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