Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Flip- Switch

Well, I have some things to say.

Something has changed in my art approach because of a new feeling recently, and the best way I figure to be on the same page together is to relay to you my last few days.

 I had planned to do an exhibit of "The Golden Thread", which is still true, and base it heavily off of heros, saints, and demi-gods that I am familiar with (which is no longer true). I realized that this would mean that I'd be basing most of my painted portraits on "saints" in the Church. About 5 days ago I had a vision of St Theresa shooting up with heroin. I thought, "Huh. That's... weird." The image persisted. Saint Theresa of Avila, on her knees in full habit, wrapping a band around her arm to get a vein.

I google image searched "heroin use" to see what I would learn- I was actually thinking, "Well, I guess I'm painting her like this. What's heroin look like?" I saw pictures of people before and during their heroin addiction. After a person has become an addict their face turns into that of a ghoul. I don't want to post any pictures here because I think they emit a negative vibe- and by negative vibe I mean a vacuous one- their pale faces and black gaping mouths make them look hungry for anything they can get. The people themselves are taken over by the predatory nature of the opiate, I suppose. 

"Religion is the opiate of the masses." -Karl Marx

During this time a friend of mine gave me a book that she said would be very helpful for my research and upcoming paintings- a history of Christianity through the approach of famous Christians. I was so excited! A book! I haven't read any books in a while. So I curled up on the comfy chair and read the back cover. It said it would cover 33 religious figures. And knowing that I'd planned to paint 33 canvases I though to myself, "Oh my gosh. This is so meant to be." So I open up to St Augustine's chapter, namesake of my hometown and its cathedral. And in his own words I read.... of the foolish and self-inflated desert Gnostics (some people I really admire.) I read a few other choice things he had to say about the sovereignty of the Church. I crinkled my nose and said out-loud,  "Wait a minute....you're.... you're an asshole!" I read a couple other entries from other saints, and by that time I had just about made myself sick. All they wanted to talk about was how great it was to die and suffer. Blech. I went to bed.

The next morning I woke up and said to myself, "Ooph. Don't open that book again. It's a guilt- creating device." Later that same day I read something by Michael Brown. And then I read something else by Barbara Hand Clow. And something... happened. First, I knew I had to trash the show plans I'd made so far. I asked myself, "What in the world was I thinking? Making plans like that? Starting with the most dense thing possible- the physical structures of it- the lay of the paintings- mentally learning about the people- and then hoping to fill it with the ethereal?" That was just... kind of stupid of me. It goes the other way around! 

It was soon after I realized that that this new feeling came. And in order to communicate it I'm going to tell you part of my story. Since I was so tiny I've been drawing ladies. Pretty ladies, young ladies, old ladies, homeless ladies, religious ladies, royal ladies, groups of ladies.... I've always been kind of surprised that no one has said to me directly, "I've seen your drawings and I can clearly see that you've got issues. Major issues." In my paintings you can see that women are my subject- that's who I see in my minds eye- they're the vehicle for my visual language. But it's also more than that. I've been trying to bring her back. One in particular. She's like the entire Garden of Eden within herself, and she is from somewhere else. She can take any form she likes but let me describe her so you can maybe see her too- She's like a tall queen, but queen is the wrong word because she doesn't rule, she adores. She's clothed in a garden that is fabric yet alive at the same time- it sparkles like the cosmos and moves with the wind as it makes the wind, and it sings like the birds and birds, when they wish or when she wishes, will fly out of the folds of her dress tweeting. From her hair and through her hands is a sparkling chain of jewels with rubies and emeralds and diamonds and jewels we've never seen before. At times we have gone places together, but this time she isn't here. At one time we used to make different colors together. Often through my life I have asked, "Why did you leave me?" and begged her to come back or tell me something. As far as I know she is entirely gone from me except in the most heightened trance.

So my art, as best I can describe, has been me trying to make a picture of her, a feeling of her. To have her around in my everyday. I have been scribbling away at pieces of paper on the ground. Scribbling madly- she was like this- no she's like this- wait I think I remember- no that's not right either- what did her hair look like?- Oh no! I'm forgetting everything about her! I cannot overemphasize the depth of my grief over her absence. Back to that feeling I'm trying to illustrate. So I am scribbling away. And I hear a "Psst." "Not now," I said to the sound with my head to the ground, "I'm working on a picture." Again, "Psst." So I looked up. And There. She. Is. It feels like a white sparkling explosion of silence inside my chest. I stared at her. For hours. Inexplicable. The only true thing. Later I whispered so quiet, "I thought you were gone," with tears all down my face. I couldn't sleep that night, everything was so different. 

For so long I just thought I made her up. But she exists!

It's difficult for me to relay this most momentous occasion in my internal life, but I think the gist of it, from an artistic sense, is that I won't be making plans for this coming year in terms of what I paint- please pardon all of what I wrote except for the date- and I will paint with what comes. I mean, I don't have to find her anymore- she's here! That totally changes what I'm doing. 


Marguaritte said...

That is just such effervescent writing. Thank you, it was a pleasure to read.

Shannon said...

My pleasure! Thank you, Marguaritte. :)