The last few months have been emotionally unstable for me . . . preparing for my first-born's high school graduation, along with the the entire 'visiting colleges', vacations, and children's end-of-year activities, I feel like there is no me left.
I have managed to squeeze in a few art related activities - finishing 5 new art works for an application for an exhibition in London (which I didn't get into, but which was a great motivator).
Choosing to continue with the CONSTRAINT series, I created:
Initially, first reactions seem to be shock, and then, either horror or hilarity.
I mean them to be visual jesters which have an underlying message about role models and institutions. As a bride, I refused to say "obey" and as bride and groom, my husband and I attempted to have a garden wedding with a non-denominational vow exchange. Unfortunately, after the family friend (minister) had agreed in July to the vows we had chosen, he decided the NIGHT BEFORE OUR WEDDING to announce to us that he would be using his King James/Fundamental Baptist wording. We were NOT happy to say the least. We felt TRAPPED by the trickery . . . yet we had 75 invites out, the Civil War era home we had rented was decorated . . . what to do? We got married anyway and I cried through the entire ceremony because it was not what we wanted. Comments which were relayed to me after the wedding caused me to not speak to certain family members for 3 months. It was awful. I shudder at the memories of my own wedding.
Regarding "Post-Partum", I was thinking about the shock of bringing home a newborn and the emotional upheaval, not to mention the hormonal, changes. It is difficult even if you are not dealing with depression, gestational diabetes, breast-feeding, etc. This work also correlates with the "A PAXIL A DAY" and "COPING SKILLS" series, in that I had issues with pregnancy difficulties and depression. On a broader scale, it simply visualizes the constraints parenthood puts on the family and couplehood dynamics.
One concern I have with marriage, as seen in "Rat Trap", is that once married, the couple tends to lose their 'romance' and 'infatuations' with one another. Having been divorced, I was terrified that our marriage might END our love. I am happy to say, 20 years later, that, for us, that was not the case.
What are the reactions you have to these works? I would love to hear YOUR impressions and thoughts on marriage and parenthood!
Having had a particularly difficult day today, emotionally, speaking - I want to turn the page back to last week when I had some fantastic epiphanies.
Since December and the Miami-Pool Art Fair trip, I have been trying to answer a question I received during my flight wait to Miami. I was approached by a retired Military officer and asked "Where am I going? And "What do I do?" One would think that I have a snap answer to that question, but I never have. Maybe because I really work at breaking down my motivations and analyze my own psyche, I tend to answer in paragraphs or essays, NOT one sentence wonders.
So, I decided I needed to have that one-sentence answer ready the next time I am asked.
If you know me at all, and some of you do, I don't keep anything hidden, I am what I am, for better for worse . . . you know I am NOT a morning person! I think better at night, I work better at night, and the mornings (i.e., anything prior to NOON) are not me at my best. Last week, after realizing we would have ANOTHER SNOWDAY and that I could TURN OFF THE ALARM (woot!), I was given the great opportunity to slowly wake up and tiptoe through that twilight of sleep/dream and awake/reality. What I realized, was that, in one sentence,:
I am the most broken item I have ever put back together. It is a daily process, just like today, when I was literally ripped apart in a public forum for speaking my own truth about my rape. I am stitching myself back together - I am a one-armed Raggedy Ann, restitching my dismembered arm back to myself.
The 2nd epiphany I experienced last week was the solution to an installation problem with "YOU MADE YOUR BED", a new series I will be installing in March at the "Ladies First", Top 10 Women Artists of Tennessee Exhibition at The Customs House Museum (in honor of women's history month). Literally, laying 'abed' I visualized the installation solution and got it planned in my brain before I stepped onto the floor. Here is 1/2 of the installation:
So, what I have learned this month?
1) I realized what I do is, metaphorically and, literally, "I Put Back Together Broken Things", and
2) Just as I am responsible for what my truth is, so are others, and there are deep and lasting crevices that are created from speaking one's truth.
The last week has wrought many events that have upset my normally serene and content state-of-mind:
The Tucson shootings have left me even more convinced that the death penalty is a valid exchange for mass murder - I understand the idea of those against the death penalty, but in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that some souls are irredeemable in this life, that to restore universal balance, the scales need to be re-set. Even though I understand that mistakes have been made and innocent humans have been executed, I still believe that execution is the final retribution due because of lives stolen away . . . not to mention the lives of survivors of the victims.
Other issues are again, not directly my issues, but as they orbit into my reality, they have upset my balance . . . secrets kept, once revealed - can be freeing. Their revelations always bring about better understanding of the secret keeper . . . but if the information gets out, does that wreak more pain for those effected? Only the secret keeper can weigh that issue and make that call. Although I believe in full disclosure, I am happy to hold shared secrets until their time is come. What is the psychological WEIGHT of a secret????? That intrigues me . . . if I were to paint a picture, would they appear as a large burden carried upon one's shoulders? I am reminded of Robert di Nero in THE MISSION, one of my all-time, favorite movies, the freedom he gained when he, literally, let his weight fall from his shoulders.
One of my dear friends and her family suffered a fire on their property. Everyone is safe, but the loss of personal property, those treasured things . . . that is heavy, too. What would I grab if I KNEW my room was about to burn? My nook? A Photo Album? My Laptop? It is something to consider.
So, for all the heartache I feel in the world around me, for my dear friends and family that are dealing with these issues, I share this poem, which soothed my soul this morning.
THIS IS MY WISH FOR YOU by Charles Livingston Snell
This is my wish for you . . .
That the spirit of beauty may continually hover about you
and fold you close within the tendernesses of her wings.
That each beautiful and gracious thing in life may be unto
you as a symbol of good for your soul's delight.
That sun-glories and star-glories, leaf-glories and bark-glories,
glories of mountains and oceans of the little streams of running waters;
glories of song, of poesy, of all the arts may be to you as sweet, abiding
influences that will illumine your life and make you glad.
That your soul may be as an alabaster cup, filled to overflowing
with the mystical wine of beauty and love.
That happiness may put her arms around you, and wisdom
make your soul serene.
This is my wish for you.
|re·sil·ience [ ri zílly?nss ] or re·sil·ien·cy [ ri zílly?nssee ]|
|1. speedy recovery from problems: the ability to recover quickly from setbacks|
|2. elasticity: the ability of matter to spring back quickly into shape after being bent, stretched, or deformed
It is amazing to me that a view of the tree's internal rings reveal it's entire biography - the year it was born, the travail of injury, the years of abundance and nurture. I am amazed at the individuality of each scar.
Not only the individuality, but the fact that these scars are the cause of so much beauty and the site of resilience and self-healing. In a way, these trees are my 'heroes' and nature is where I can instantly receive the succor and peace from everyday challenges. It is like an instant realignment of internal and external health. See, echophsycology posting, http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/01/essay-eco-psych.html (Eco-psychology and Inner-World Balance) as well as a previous posting http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/10/natures-gifts.html (Nature's Gifts)
Along the Natchez Trace I became lost. Lost, literally, but emotionally as well. This sojourn provided time to dwell in the bucolic world. I saw the way nature ate away at the attempted confinement of man. The trees were devouring the very man-made structures used to tame them.
As time passed, the con-finements were devoured, but the fact of them was left behind - the trees had continued to grow about the chains of man and left behind the visualization of their conquering spirits.
I, too, seek to be triumphant and to devour my oppression and create a beautiful outcome. Just like these trees, I hope to heal and transform my internal and external scars into marks of strength.
So, once again, my ruminations return to WHAT REMAINS? What we keep and why?
What will my story say at the end?
To learn more about the Life of a Tree, visit