Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Jury Is In

Emily Dickinson locked herself in her attic, working, writing, surviving on few relationships and with her own mind.

Van Gogh cut off his ear.

Virginia Wolff wrote books and books and books and then walked into the water with rocks in her coat pocket to save the world from herself and to cease the war within her mind.

Hemingway and the drinking. Maybe manic depressive?

Sylvia Plath.

Jerome David Salinger, the Catcher in the Rye.

Dad and the studio and the wine and the "look what I have created now.... but when I die this will all be worth something."

My photographs and paintings propped against a wall, waiting for the jurors to decide whether I am in or not.

I believe my chances are good. My photographs are different and consistent enough to separate me from the flower photographers. (Though I do have my fair share of flowers, but those are really of the bees and their interaction with life, my photos of San Diego--required subject commissioned for a calendar, my photos of European landmarks... just like everyone else.) But I have been to India, to Europe, to history in a towering replica of a sailor kissing a nurse on V-Day. I am obsessed with the interaction of humans with the world, with each other and I capture those exchanges. My photographs were the only ones that told the story of being alive, of being human, of survival in India and beauty in Italy and victory in the States.

It's still a throw of the dice.

And then there are the paintings. Acrylics. Flowers and people. A conservative Spanish Village--an unwritten rule of no nudes. The best paintings eliminated. As though the human body didn't have a human body. As though the child that drank of its mother's teet never saw a breast and somehow makes it through the world without seeing an advertisement for soap that features the product in use. But I dressed my favorite nude (sadly) in a little black dress. Burnt sienna and titanium buff blended for the woman to emerge from, her dress tinged with highlights of the darkest blues and purples for hints of form and movement. She was born last night. Flowers to show I can paint with quiet strokes and create a representation of what people think they might see if they had to see a garden. Best of all this dancing woman who emerged just two days ago, 8"x10" and wearing a dazzling purple gown, pushing her body into existence through the textured palette of pinks and lavenders and white; dancing as though she were alive. Kitty and the mazurka. Tolstoy's dream.

No glass of wine for this artist, quieted by the prescription of calm in 1/2 an extra pill to be taken when the heart beats too fast and the panic creeps toward taking control and making function impossible.

But, I do begin to remember the confusion of the less-depressed but quite forgetful pills of the past. I hope my desperation to escape that darkness does not propel me into a different kind of brokenness.

The civil war of my brain needs more ammunition on the side of sanity, more warriors in my brigade.

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