Monday, February 11, 2013

Jackson Pollock vs. The Circuitous Path We Tread Together

This is a painting I just finished.  I am asking you something important, because I do not want to mislead you in any way.  If you're going to read this post - you're going to have to read the ENTIRE post.  The explanation is at the end, and you will absolutely not understand my thrust unless you commit to read to the end.  So - either make the commitment, or stop reading right now!

First, study my painting, then read my artist's statement below.

Cindy Johnson’s Painting,
The Circuitous Path We Tread Together
February, 2013       

“This piece, which I consider my greatest masterpiece, is representative of my paintings and an expression of my interconnection with and dependency upon the cosmos.  I consider it my signature and most important work.

It represents the whole of humanity, its origins and the inter-relationship and subtle connections between species.  Barely concealed beneath the three circles of life, you will find an almost-hidden starburst, expanding ever outward, symbolizing the vast expansion of our universe.  The circles pull us back from that expansion to consider our minute selves.

Into this work I have incorporated dirt, sticks and leaves, which speak to all of nature and remind us of the organic environment in which we live and the importance of mother earth to all of us.  The almost invisible particles of dirt add a subtle texture and remind us that we are small, insignificant parts of the whole. The bright, opposing colors represent the dynamism and opposite connectivity between humans, animals and the earth itself.

If you look closely at my work, you can see colors peeking through the orange paint where it has barely concealed the surface below.  This addresses the fragility of our environment and symbolizes how easily it can be upset.  The haphazard paint marks and remaining blue circles represent man’s creation and the damage he can so easily inflict upon defenseless and fragile nature.

As your eyes are drawn through the painting, you will see almost hidden cat hairs.  These nearly invisible hairs not only are a delight to the eye, but give the painting its glorious finish.  Only the seeker will discover this rare treat, which so many impatient and unfortunate beings will miss. They succinctly symbolize the animals from which we evolved and our relationship to them, and celebrate the essence of our inter-connectivity with all of life, indeed, all matter, both organic and inorganic.  NOT!!!

This painting actually has several layers.  The first was a sunflower I painted at the gallery while teaching ten women how to paint sunflowers at a painting party they hired us for.

The second layer was a paint-over of black I did outside so I could use the canvas again.  An unfortunate wind blew a bunch of twigs and leaves onto the wet canvas.  You can still see the faint “starburst” pattern, which is the whorl of the sunflower petals.

The third layer was another paint-over of orange, because I had orange out and like orange.  I was painting something else, actually a bamboo root, and decided to cover the canvas as well.

The fourth and final layer is the blue.  I am planning a project with my Art 1 kids and needed to paint some cans blue.  Because blue and orange are complimentary, I thought I’d do it on top of the orange canvas so that I wouldn’t paint my table.

Thus, The Circuitous Path We Tread Together was born.  I think I like it!

Now, to the crux of the matter.  For my higher-grade students last week I explained how unveilings and artists' statements go.  First, I explained viewpoint and stood up higher than them, uncovering my painting, which was higher yet - awe inspiring!  Then, nose in the air, I read them my statement, bowing at the end until they applauded.

After that, I asked how many of them believed my and were swayed by anything I said.  Most of them didn't believe me, but some did admit that they thought they knew me until they heard my speech.  We discussed discerning artists' statements and art in general.  I told them that if we indeed are believers in Christ, and have invited Him in to be the center of our lives, He has given us a gift - the Holy Spirit, who helps us to discern.  We need not be swayed by grandiose speech.  We need not feel stupid because we don't understand the spoutings of authoritarians. We need not be lead to believe any number of myths simply because they are well-polished, well-marketed, and presented with force and poise.  We have the Holy Spirit within us.

This leads us to the second part of my lesson. Jackson Pollock's Lavender Mist.  Jackson Pollock was an evolutionist.  Since he believed in evolution, he thought his paintings should evolve.  So, he laid down the canvas, put up scaffolding, hung buckets with ropes, and walked around pulling the ropes, spilling the paint, or just throwing the paint down. So, they evolved.
Here's where the questions arise.  Jackson Pollock, did your paintings evolve?  Who laid the canvas? Where did the colors of paint come from?  How did they get from bucket to canvas?  How is it that the paint spills are uniform, with a nice balance of paint and space?  A balance of color?  Are you leading me to believe that perhaps your studio exploded and these paintings came into existence?   Hmmmm....

Inevitably, one of my students will come to the conclusion that "Hey, he had to choose the paint!"  "Mrs. Johnson, he had to spill the paint and choose the colors..."  Turns out that yes, indeed, Mr. Pollock, you created them yourself.  You were the creator.  How about that.

Here is  Lavender Mist in all its glory.  Personally, Mr. Pollock, I like The Circuitous Path We Tread Together better.  

I'd love to hear from you guys to know which painting you prefer!

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