The 10,000 Things


The 10,000 Things, 2008-2009

Acrylic ink on vellum, 3×19 feet

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The 10,000 Things, 2008-2009

Archival acrylic ink on vellum, 3×19 feet

The full length of the painting unfurled is 19 feet, but because it is a scroll, this work can be installed at any length.


This painting is perhaps my most important work. Since creating it in 2008 and 2009, all of my other paintings have been in relationship to it.

One Fall day in 2008, I went the to the San Francisco Aquarium. I stood drawing an anemone plumosa, a nearly transparent being stuck to the face of the aquarium glass. After a good chunk of time, I noticed what seemed like fingerprints on the glass. But in the hour I had been there drawing, not a single person had stopped at this tank, let alone pressed themselves against it. Upon closer inspection I discovered the marks, fanning and spiraling in mesmerizing, barely-visible ridges of dust, were the footprints of the anemone— a single tiny mark made over the course of hours. These stunning patterns covered the glass, perhaps months of imperceptible movement by the anemone. The patterns you see in this painting are studies of what I saw on the glass.

Both the visual patterns and the process of creating them gripped me. What trails are you leaving in your life, imperceptible to you, unintentional but devastatingly beautiful nonetheless?

I worked on this painting for months, losing myself in the mark making. Rather than deciding what marks to make next, I followed the patterns where they led me. One night long into the journey, I threw my inks at the paper in frustration and left the studio. Returning to the studio the next morning, I paused before rounding the corner. I said to myself, “Last night I either threw away months of work, or I had a breakthrough. Either way, what’s done is done.”

Additional information

Weight 160 oz
Dimensions 54 × 12 × 12 in