> Painted Wood



Painted wood, 2004, 12" x 12" x 19".

I find myself comparing conversations and debates to badminton matches. I stand on the side lines swivelling my attention as the conversation shuttle sails from side to side, sometimes with expert precision and efficiency in a long volley of crisp pings; sometimes with novice clumsiness, in a sputtering series of starts and stops, blunders and missteps; sometimes with cruelty, gloats, and smashed rackets when the discussion disintegrates into a contest outside basic rules of civility.

Occasionally, when backed into a corner or when no one seemed to be saying what I thought needed to be said, I would struggle to find my own voice and step onto the court. At first it was a personal victory just to articulate and voice a coherent opinion. But in time, I began to long for a coach to hold up cue cards on the sidelines, alerting me to my missteps, warning me of potential traps, teaching me a better way. I wanted my words to be heard, capable of moving the discussion forward. I wasn't interest in winning the match; I wanted to solve the problem and move on.

- Janet Geib Pretti

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