Friday, July 23, 2010

why angels?

When a new friend asked me in an email to talk about why angels often appear in my work, I replied that I really didn't have an agenda for using the angel image because I prefer that people bring their own meaning into the visual dialogue. I recognize that a winged figure is very much an iconic shape, though, and one that carries a spiritual connotation. I probably first truly noticed angels as a child. But aside from an admiration for their ability to fly and a nebulous belief in their protective characteristic (as in guardian angels) I didn't think about them much until my first visit to Italy in 1996. I had just graduated from a local college with a degree in visual art and, of course, had viewed many photos of Annunciation paintings in Art History class. But when I arrived in Florence and visited the Uffizi, Santo Spirito, San Marco and many other sites of paintings and sculptures of angels, something inside me turned toward the concept that an angel is truly a messenger of God.

In the years since then I've photographed dozens of stone angels and used transfers of these photos in my paintings. I began drawing angels as a means of abstracting the shape so that it became more personal. As my process for painting has become more intuitive, angels have often appeared in my gestural surfaces, and when I spy one I entice it forward.

If I had to affirm my particular meaning for angels, my immediate response is that they remind me, messenger-like, to pay attention to the precious moments in my life that often go unnoticed. I can trudge through days oblivious to simple pleasures and small kindnesses. But then, out of the corner of my eye or heart, I catch a glimpse or feeling of something beyond rational comprehension. For a fleeting moment an unexpected angel touches down.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

seduced by a sink

A dream I had a couple of nights ago has stuck with me. I was wandering through a rather large old house that was for sale and wondering if I could live there. The rooms had high ceilings but the walls looked as though they were made of metal. The whole place felt awkward and off putting to me and I sensed I could never live there. Until I reached the kitchen. The walls there were just as ugly and the lay out of the room was clumsy, but then I spied the kitchen sink and fell in love. It was an old commercial kitchen sink, with two parts. One part was very deep and would be wonderful for filling huge pots with water. The other side was less deep but as wide as a kitchen table. I pictured myself at that sink, washing vegetables, readying magnificent meals for appreciative guests at my dinner table. Daydreaming in a dream? My reverie broke and I looked at my surroundings again and realized that the sink was the only redeeming quality of the entire house. Better to not buy the house, but to find a better one and buy a similar sink.

In my studio I often get seduced by "sinks." I'll be working away on a painting and not really getting where I want to go, when suddenly I spy a wonderful passage of paint that I fall in love with. I start daydreaming about how great it is and how everyone is going to recognize my talent which is deep and wide. I work around and around that beautiful "sink" until I have to admit I just can't buy the whole package just for that one fixture. I need to look some more for a better solution, giving up that seductive part of the painting.