You collect them. One was stolen from a neighborhood
house empty of all traces of its previous owners except
the crystal knob on the hallway door and the thin
iron key. Whoever bought the house wouldn’t care
about the lives lived in it before, or the echoes of footfall
or the way long shadows took on the shapes of those
who no longer sit at the tables or gaze out the windows. You Continue reading
“Spooky house” by Wayne Woodruff. See his photos here.
This neighborhood had a name before it was colonized by Trader Joe’s and an endless stream of SUV traffic. Just because no one who lives here now can remember what it was called doesn’t mean you get to rename it.
You build your house on a graveyard and act surprised when the ghosts move into your hot tub, your gourmet kitchen, your wood-fired pizza oven. There’s a reason why houses from a hundred years ago had such small closets: no space for the dearly departed.
The ancestors are not impressed with your two-car garage, your home yoga studio, your posh amnesia. If you don’t call a place by its true name, you’ll dream of its former inhabitants. You’ll wake to them rattling like mice in your walls.
I started making these collages to say something that I couldn’t write down. Beauty is marred, the perception of women is a false narrative, we live in a world that neither honors nor protects what it loves. In the many and loud and frequent calls to change the government by voting Republicans out, I can’t help but think about how heavily North Carolina is gerrymandered and that the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified. So yes, I’ll vote. And no, I don’t believe all votes count equally. I wish I believed that, but I don’t.
Below are my digital collages (in order) of “The Girl with the Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer, “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Ivan Kramskoi, “Portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci” by Leonardo da Vinci, and “Pinkie” by Thomas Lawrence. The choice to use famous works by white male artists was intentional.
Maybe it’s because he’s new to town but already on the rise, already with a convertible and plans for a salon of his own. That kind of fast fame is intoxicating.
Maybe it’s because he’s pretty. Soft-faced. Feminine. Maybe it’s for that reason that his mother gave him a girl’s name and not just any girl’s name but that of a virgin saint. He is no virgin saint but his name implies trustworthiness.
My experience as an artist so far has been that I am led down various life paths, often related to the BIG LIFE ISSUES (marriage, career, friendships, family, health scares for myself or those close to me, minor and major tragedies, national and world events) and make art in response to those experiences. The art isn’t really planned beyond “I think I’m OK at writing, so I’ll study that, and since I’ve studied it a bit, I guess that’s my main media” or “I’m sick of words and need to try to express myself through some other art form so maybe I’ll play the ukulele because it only has four strings so how hard can it be?”
In short: Art Reflects Life.
Members of Pussy Riot perform at Red Square, January 2012. Photo by Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
But now, in my mid-40s, I find myself wondering if the more meaningful creative path might be Life Reflects Art. Wherein the artist would choose an art form and follow that Continue reading
After deleting 139 photos of my ex, my photo gallery looks like I’ve only ever vacationed by myself. I suppose that’s sort of true: Me leaning casually against Hadrian’s Wall; me at Edith Piaf’s grave; me, in an optical illusion, touching the top of the Temple of Kukulkan as if it’s miniature and I’m a giant.
I can barely remember feeling hot that day, in Chichen Itza, or motion sick from the bus ride. I recall those details like an itinerary, like a packing list, like a fact that could also be a lie. Like a movie I once saw while sick with the flu that I later, inadvertently, adopted as a series of scenes from my own life. Memory is like that: Fallible, slippery. Continue reading
I found a folder of 68 photos, from a 2015 trip to Ireland, on a forgotten SD card. Like finding an old role of film, it turned up some treasures and lots of questions. What is this shot even of? What was I feeling on this day? Who was I, three years ago? So this week’s post is a flash fiction on that theme.
It’s not this town. And you’re glad, though this town is scenic, sprawling along a mineral-gray lake. The banks are mossy and the sky is pale blue and the hill beyond the village is artfully terraced by ancient people who carved civilization from the land with Iron Age tools. Maybe it was Bronze Age. You should know from all the museums but you don’t know. Continue reading