It’s been so long since I last logged on to this website that I had to change my password (again.) I see the last entry was almost a year ago. But I’ve had some new movement with some older work, and this is the place to write about that. A revisit is in order.
"Art is a wound turned into light."—Georges Braque
A couple weeks ago, I was invited along with a handful of other local artists to show a painting at a gathering of creatives. They all stood on their easels in a beautiful night garden under strings of festoon bulbs, each entirely different from the other, but somehow complimentary. At one point in the evening, the guests were asked to quietly wander around the work taking notes on index cards if they felt so moved or ‘spoken to.’
The host had asked me to bring a painting I made in summer 2017, when I was exploring the filling of shapes loosely based on x-rays of fractured bones (well, that was the starting point anyway.) At the time, I’d been thinking on the idea of moving my current experience of grief into a different space. What if I could revisit the source of Vernon’s injuries and from there, see what kind of beauty I could add/find/take away. It was an exercise in changing my focus on death to depths. I wanted to make gardens take over the shipwreck. I wanted to change the story the only way I could. I wanted to accelerate my healing.
But no one at the gathering knew any of this. When it was time to regroup, some people shared their thoughts—which was especially interesting for the anonymous artists of the work. A man who had interacted with mine spoke about how it reminded him of the insides of a heart, with it's red arteries and chambers. He felt connected in that way because his grandfather, who he’d been very close to, had recently passed away after a heart attack. He even wrote a poem on his meditation (but I don’t have that to share.) For me, on hearing this, the painting had come full circle—it had started as a work to help me heal, an idea based on Vernon’s initial injuries on the moment of impact. And a year later, I could hear that it was meeting another hurting person in his pain, bringing its own message of comfort to him. It had nothing to do with me anymore. Where I was revisiting beginnings, this man was revisiting an ending.
This was a privilege, indeed. Most of us seldom get to hear the effect something we make has on another person, especially a stranger.
This Saturday, I’ll be joining another community of artists, writers, and performers at an evening festival in LA, with the theme “Creativity for Healing.” Each contributor has gone through some strong pain and loss that their creative practice has helped them get through. Perhaps they aren’t even ‘through’ it, perhaps they are still inside it, but they are putting those difficult emotions into something they can observe at a great distance, now its on the outside. So what if what we make doesn’t speak to everyone….or anyone at all? It’s still a move forward for the maker. What matters is that we got something of our inner-experience outside of ourselves and into the world where it might just have some breath of its own, a chance to communicate it it’s secret language with someone else. That is neither our responsibility nor something we can control. But it’s still nice to know that it happens.
I’ll sign off with my favorite art quote of all, and I hope it makes sense to you too.
“One’s art goes as deep and far as one’s love goes.”—Andrew Wyeth
Here is the link for more information and tickets to the Creativity Festival.