Ritual and Repetition

Michael Sherwin
March 1, 2007, 12:31 am
Filed under: Ritual and Repetition


Clean Slate, 2006
4 mins
Michael Sherwin – Ellensburg Washington


After my first year of full-time teaching as a Professor of Photography at Central Washington University I was exhausted. I walked around the empty classroom sifting through all the ups and downs of the past year. I had thought four courses a term, including six sections of Beginning Photography alone. So many students, so many faces, and so many questions crisscrossed my muddled mind. I was burnout, beaten, and numb. The repetition of courses and endless stream of students only seemed to gain intensity with each subsequent term. How does a teacher handle the constant process of renewal?

As I reflected on the challenges of my new chosen profession, I looked around the classroom hoping to find some symbol of my effort. My eyes fell on the old slate chalkboard sitting in the corner of the classroom. A reservoir and device for the transmission of information, my chalkboard had not been cleaned in an entire year. Like a cumulus cloud drifting slowly overhead I stood and stared at this abstract representation of time passed. Embedded in the thick dust lied the signs and hazy reminders of my mechanical reiteration.

In an act of determination and restoration, I decided to document myself cleaning the chalk-dust off the board with a big wet sponge. Condensing 30 minutes of repeated attempts to cleanse the board just into 5, each of the infinite patterns formed in the drying dust trace the residue of my rapid actions, resembling a temporal abstract expressionist painting. The piece serves as a process of mental cleansing and as a simple symbol for repetition, ritual and renewal.



6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

where can I see the video?

Comment by Jordan River

Hey Jordan,

Check out my website at http://www.michaelsherwin.com under the Portfolio section to view a clip of the piece.


Comment by Michael Sherwin

Last year one of my duties as lab monitor was to wash chalkboards. I would sort of meditate while doing it as the history never quite came off, but kept reappearing in different ways. I really made a connection to this piece.

Comment by heather

this video changed my life…i washed a chalkboard about a month ago and this was all i could think of….with each second the chalkboard dries a new artistic composition is created!

Comment by amy

this video makes me think of different life changing events we go through. Each new experience sort of washes over us, slightly altering our perception of the world and reality each time.

Comment by karie

I understand this as it is impossible for the effects of what we do or the past to be erased, every decision we make, everything we do effects someone or something, I can relate it to Run Lola Run.

Comment by Mary

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