Magazine article World Literature Today

Capturing the Unresolved Narrative

Magazine article World Literature Today

Capturing the Unresolved Narrative

Article excerpt

"You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair."

I have long taken the injunction to "find yourself" especially to heart, and have spent years in disparate places, roles, and preoccupations attempting to comply. For many years, I believed that a successful career was sufficient to validate my being. The birth of my son in 2005 profoundly amended this perspective, and my priorities forever changed. My solitary enterprises in the studio were no longer possible, so I committed to a medium that could accompany the two of us. Self-expression gradually moved from the periphery of my life toward its center, along with the unconditional love of my child.

It is said that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. Many years earlier I was, unfortunately, well-acquainted with fear, but I was determined to understand its subconscious origin. I made my dreams a conduit to what was beneath my immediate level of awareness. Though their literal meanings were elusive, they provided potent metaphorical content to explore. My art became the template, the substrate with which I could reconcile, amend, and modify this content. I have described this act as creating waking dreams, and as moments of planned vision. Art creates a space for me to modify and to manage tremendously painful feelings. I allow the process to take me to resolutions I would never have imagined were it a highly deliberative activity.

I employ photography less as a means to record the world than as a way to articulate my inner world. The camera became a tool to understand the incoherent, unmediated content of my individual psyche. Art is a process that makes one's self known. This has been so since someone first impressed their hand to a damp cave wall and blew pigment over it, indelibly stating, "I was here, and it mattered." I believe that most of us strive with a similar purpose to make that statement and to account for its implicit "why" question.

Although planned to some extent, my images often rely on spontaneity and the ability to accept the present moment. My son has taught me this during our years of exploration together. I've tried to learn how to rest while in motion-as an artist and mother. There are the inevitable times of distractions and interruptions, but my goal is to try and stay on course by acknowledging the essence of creation, which, to me, is play. Our daily purpose was pure engagement with creativity. This spirit is what animates a work such as untitled 3: my son was merely amusing himself, and I was behind a curtain, near one of my father-in-law's hunting trophies. As unaffected as the scene before me was, when I later viewed the image, I noticed that my son had sprouted horns of a sort, made of shadows and the fall of drapery. I was reminded of the Old Testament covenant that sent a goat, a scapegoat, into the desert to bear the sins of the people. I discerned from the scene a lesson that of these two innocent beings, one an effigy and the other abundantly alive, that no one person's suffering can bring a society, or an individual, peace.

Love without Hope (page 109) occurred in a like way, from the seemingly simple matter of being mindfully present. My son and I had been exploring the woods by a local lake, and he fell asleep in the car. …

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