At Loop Gallery
One of the few stories of hope that came out
of the Tsunami devastation tells of a woman who was swept down a river
holding baby twins. She grabbed onto a floating tree. The tree turned
out to be a giant water snake that swam to the shore, dropped off its
human cargo and then swam away. This is probably an Indonesian version
of an urban myth.
Urban myths, legends, epics, fairy tales,
and gossip are all versions of storytelling. And storytelling is what
I investigate through my art practice. In this installation a string of
small blue paintings creates a non-linear non-verbal narrative. The images
are culled from emblems found in traditional fairytales, from photographs
and advertisements in newspapers and magazines, and from my own sketches
and photographs. The narrative, though an open-ended one, does have rhythm
and phrases with sad sections separate from sections that are whimsical
Every so often the narrative of the small paintings
is interrupted by large paintings of chandeliers. I conceived of the chandelier
pieces as precious stones set along the trajectory of a beaded necklace.
If the little paintings are details in the story of the everyday, then
the chandelier paintings are the big, glorious spectacles, outside of
ourselves, that ignite our imaginations.
One such event that I witnessed took place
while I was on an artist residency in Dawson City, Yukon. During a camping
trip there, I saw white northern lights flashing and glowing across the
inky sky. The image of a chandelier came to me. During that residency
I also researched stories and photos of the Klondike gold rush. It seemed
that as soon as a frontier town established itself, the townspeople built
a big hall for genteel activities, like formal balls, and outfitted it
with an imported crystal chandelier. I thought of all the towns in the
west and north of Canada joined like a necklace by their sparkly chandeliers.
On the other side of town, in contrast, were the lampshades of the saloons
and brothels. I am drawn to such dichotomies: gentility versus utility;
elegance/violence; wisdom versus folly; order/chaos. In my narrative,
I juxtapose them to create a dynamic of emotional engagement that is the
essence of a story well told or a life well lived.