Impromptu Vocabularies

DevevanPhoto courtesy of Jim Denevan

Jim Denevan’s immense works come and go within a day’s time. But for the viewer, the impression remains long after the tide has washed away any semblance of human presence.

Denevan’s inscriptions conjure images of rhythmic carves across the face of a perfect wave, so it comes as no surprise that his first love is surfing. While waltzing across the beach with nothing but a stick of driftwood in hand, or dragging a rake behind an old bicycle, fluid, arching lines become impulsive and beautiful large-scale works of natural art.

Most of Denevan’s ephemeral pieces are completely impromptu, emerging organically as he walks barefoot across the sand. Watching his bodily kinesthetic process is like viewing a monk meditatively navigating a fractal labyrinth. Denevan spends hours walking miles across his sandy canvas, impressions in sand providing a rich vocabulary for communicating the impromptu and ephemeral.

To view Jim Denevan’s miraculous work, including photos from space (9 miles across!), visit his website at, or watch Thread, a film that reveals Denevan’s process.

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