The AAM’s exhibition Each day is a whole world brings together eleven works by poet and artist Etel Adnan. Born in 1925 in Beirut, Adnan studied at the Sorbonne in Paris before moving to teach philosophy in the University of California system, where she began painting at the age of thirty-four.
Using squares of abstract color and strong lines, Adnan creates small-format paintings and large-scale tapestries, each of which addresses the enduring persistence of landscape on the human condition. In the seventies, she moved just north of San Francisco and became so enamored by a nearby mountain, Mount Tamalpais, that it became the artist’s central subject matter, appearing throughout her paintings, weavings, and poetry.
Currently living and working in Paris, she continues to paint the mountain (now from memory rather than observation). However, it represents more than just a specific landmark within Adnan’s own life. In her hands, the mountain becomes a larger symbol of the physical earth and a broader reflection on the passage of time. Spanning two galleries on the AAM’s Lower Level, the small collection of works in Each day is a whole world offers a poignant meditation on how the places we occupy and encounter become the means through which we understand our place in the world.