Friday, March 02, 2012

Tell a Story With Art

I like to tell a story with the art I create. Whether it be on a scrapbook layout, a painting or a mixed media/collage piece. If the viewer "gets" the story, then that's wonderful. And if not, that's okay too. The story is mostly for me anyways, the way I express myself and work out my inner workings through the process of making art.

I have been making this triptych over the past four or five days. It began with a spark of an idea when I was looking through TM's new "Ephemera Cabinet" and found an old encyclopedia page showing the constellations.  That coupled with a handsome young gentleman on a cabinet card, and I was off and running.

 I really wanted to do a triptych, because the three panels make perfect sense when telling a story. Beginning, middle, end, Characters, crisis, resolution. All that good stuff you learned in english about composition work perfectly into these (for me, that is).

Would you like to hear my story?

It's a (complicated) love story...

Two people who are brought together through a maze of circumstances, outside of their usual time and space, but they should never have met. They fall in love.

He is a "man's man", a gentleman. His youth is hidden under his serious looks, and reserved manners. This nature is represented in the nail, the antlers, the rough cloth. He is also a dreamer, a romantic. This nature is represented in the constellations and the loose threads. 

The lady is talkative and vivacious, graceful and beautiful. She is a romantic at heart, but also a realist due in part to her maturity in age. She enjoys the arts as befit a lady of her standing, painting, illustration, needlepoint. But she also has secrets that she hides behind all of this busy-work. These traits are represented in the dictionary page ("loquaciousness" = talkative), the spool of thread, the pearls, the lace, the doily.
Their relationship is nurtured through letters and notes written back and forth, continually and more forthcoming as the days progress. They smile and act coy and shy around each other, dancing intuitive steps, to keep them moving closer and then away again. There is a hesitance, a reluctance in this dance, in their communication with each other. Something is holding each of them back, each for their own reasons, each seemingly as unyielding and impenetrable as the highest wall or the tallest mountain.

Author's note: I love ambiguity in art. The viewer is already going to decide what the piece means to her, and how it speaks to her. But I like to introduce an open-ended comment or assumption and really force people to see the story on their own terms.
The gentleman's text reads: "he was glad when the lights went down again, as he sat, waiting". Is he full of excitement and anticipation, waiting for his lady to join him finally so they can move past the barriers the have erected? Or is he waiting alone in the dark for his broken heart to mend because their distant, anxious love was unsustainable and could never be more than it was?

The lady's text reads: "his letters to her were all the proof that she required". Were they love letters, affirming his affection and desire to be with her, to be near her always no matter the consequences or the distance he must travel? Or did they contain the cold words of denial, refusal, ending the relationship without a word of love or loss or true feeling, which she so greatly desired of him?

The more I think on this piece and the more I write about it, the more it really speaks to me. It resonates within me as I ruminate about all the complexities of love and loss, passion and desire, friendship and companionship.

Thanks to Nadine for suggesting I hand-stitch the panels together. It worked out so beautifully!

And to Chantel & Daryl for lending their ephemera collection to the cause. I couldn't have done this without that.

later loves

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