Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Halcyon Song," my most recent work, 16 x 20 inches, made entirely out of paper. 

I never title my pieces until after they're complete, and even then it's more of a process of listening rather than deciding. Usually a word starts to rise in my mind, and with some extra coaxing becomes a full title. With this piece, the word "halcyon" started to echo in my thoughts. I knew that one of it's definitions is, "a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful"- but when I looked up the full meaning, I was really surprised and delighted to learn it also refers to "a mythical bird said by ancient writers to breed in a nest floating at sea at the winter solstice, charming the wind and waves into calm." And so I titled it "Halcyon Song."

The lighting really has an effect on the feel of the piece and the angle and intensity of the shadows cast.

This piece took more out of me than any other piece I've ever created. Literal blood, sweat and tears were poured into it's creation- my fingers were nicked and cut on all sides, and the frustration of working in a new medium plus the pressure of creating a piece for such a prestigious show definitely made me cry on more than one occasion. I wrestled with heavy self-doubt as I would make and the unmake a particular part of the piece, sometimes redoing the same part three or four times before I got it right. I cut hundreds of paper feathers, throwing away most of them. Since this was only the second paper sculpture I've ever made, it was a huge process of trail and error, all with a swiftly approaching deadline culminating in being in a show with artists I've respected, admired, and swooned over for years.

The tiny arrows were my favorite part. 

Somehow in the end, it all came together. Somehow it always does. Art is such a teacher for me in reminding me to have faith in the process, to see beyond the immediate small failures and to keep working towards a larger goal. It shows me again and again that my biggest obstacle is my self-doubt and that the often meandering unfolding of reality is to be trusted. 

In progress shots...

Custom built plexiglass shadowbox frame.
As far as the meaning of the imagery of this piece- I'd love to hear your thoughts. I rarely specifically choose imagery to convey a pre-meditated meaning. It's usually after the piece is finished that I can begin to understand what it's about, sometimes in ways that totally surprise me. I'm still listening to this one, letting it tell me what it represents about me and about this world. In some ways, I think it's is a self-portrait of sorts, yet also a portrait of experience, showing the union of juxtaposing opposites and contradictions that reality so gracefully holds. The swan offers itself as a sacrifice, with it's softness and innocence, while the snake symbolizes ferocity, strength, forbidden experience, and danger, yet also transformation and rebirth. To me this piece simultaneously shows both vulnerability and strength, both woundedness and the ability to rise. It's about endings, but also about how beginnings are always spiraled and woven into every end. It's a fairytale or a myth, something known and familiar, yet standing on the edge of the shadows of a dream. It's an offering of my time and mind and life and blood, now made solid for you to see. 

Opening night.

To view the other amazing pieces of art that were part of Suggestivism: Resonance at Spoke Art in San Francisco, click here.

Laughing with artist and curator Nathan Spoor.

Leaning in close to see the details...

All photos of the opening night by Rob Williamson.