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Margaret Withers
Brooklyn, NY
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights



ARTIST STATEMENT: In my imagination the machine fly’s flights of wingless nothingness.

Encounter

In 1973 while playing on the train track outside her home in Corpus Christi, Texas, the child, dressed as a hobo (at least how she imagined a hobo would be dressed), carrying her hobo luggage (a special stick with a kitchen towel tied on the end and containing a butter sandwich, an apple, matches, and a magnifying glass stolen from the top drawer of her father's dresser) was, in that moment, believing herself to be a hobo, mentally and physically preparing herself to jump on the next open boxcar that passed by. Running while wearing hobo clothes and carrying hobo luggage would be no small task for the child, let alone hopping aboard a moving boxcar, so while she performed her stretching routine, she visualized how the train might approach and calculated the point at which she would need to begin running in order to gain enough speed to grab a railing and heave herself aboard at the peak of her energy and exertion, because she knew she would have only one chance. Time passed. When the train came, it came fast, rumbling deep with whistle blaring and she began running alongside the track, the sun low on the horizon before her and she ran and ran as hard as she could and the ground shook and the train roared behind her, louder and louder, deafening her. But in the moment it should have overtaken her, she saw that the train, as it filled the sky above her, was not a train at all, but was the Wingless Nothingness Machine.

Memory

The girl, now an adult, her hobo self long since displaced by her responsible grownup self, arrived in her studio one early morning, a regular, standard, ordinary morning, as she had done for years and years, to continue work on a painting she had begun a few days earlier. Surveying the canvas, she noticed a shape she couldn't remember painting, an object that reminded her of south Texas, and like an alarm awakening her slumbering hobo girl self, she remembered the day of her encounter with the Wingless Nothingness Machine, how it had lifted her and carried her off, and more than that, she remembered everything the Machine had conveyed to her before depositing her back on the ground next to some cows happily munching cactus near a pumpjack in an oil field. Either way the prototype of the Wingless Nothingness Machine was given to her along with the ability to imagine nothingness – and in that nothingness to create new worlds.

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