Repetition implies familiarity, comfort, and the soothing effects of the creative process. However, if rote repetition pejoratively alludes to an impoverishment of inspiration, the act of repeating or “saying over again” can also include a maturation formed by variations and iterations, an obsessive search for excellence and innovative outcomes, or a persistent way to inscribe a concept.
Sometimes it is only by looking at a large inventory of works created over a long period of time that we can perceive subtle progressions and artistic evolutions. As artist Yayoi Kusama puts it, the “more we look at one thing, the more we come to know that thing and the more we can see the infinite variety it can offer.” In the realm of one artist’s visual language, figures of repetitions determine a distinctive signature, such as the hypnotic wave-like stripes skillfully mastered by Martín Ramírez, or the tight web of threads that form Judith Scott’s sculptures. Within the patterns of an intricate sunburst quilt, Rebecca Scattergood Savery reiterated the steps she learned from her elders while also powerfully demonstrating her creative abilities, conjuring a sense of wonder and immensity through precisely repeated acts of cutting and sewing.