Week 52: Endings and Beginnings

I have reached the end of this journey, and my 52nd collage is complete. For this final work in the series, I decided to pull together some of my favorite imagery from throughout the year, and create an essential distillation of My Suburban Life. This is my place and the things that I treasure. There is the map of the neighborhood, and images of the surrounding landscape where we live. I included the dogwoods, the rose bushes, and the pear tree in the front yard where the mockingbirds sing. The wild geese fly overhead, while seedlings sprout in the garden. There are themes of growth and flight, both appropriate metaphors for the work of the past year. My husband and son walk close by while I lean over my drawing board, secure in my place in the world, my love of creating, and my commitment to my work. This is a very different feeling from when I began the project, with that strange ambivalence and unease of living in the ‘burbs. Now things are different. I have not only made peace with my suburbia, I have made it my own. My identity as an artist is not defined by where I live, but how I live a creative life.

The Lego Spaceship was featured in the very first collage, and makes a final appearance here as well. This was from a small drawing that I made back in January 2012, when I first began the project, and had saved to use in a future work. Ever since my son Max flew his Lego Spaceship into my studio last January, it became a symbol of Art meeting Life. The spaceship hovers above the earth in the realm of the imagination, while simultaneously being a tangible domestic object, embedded in the material world. This magical child-like ability to bridge the gap between imagination and reality became my inspiration. My previous body of work had conspicuously avoided the realities of everyday life, preferring the escapism of imaginary lands. One year ago I asked new questions: Can I come down from my Ivory Tower and welcome the Lego Spaceship into my creative domain? Can I take the stuff of everyday life and transform it into art? Can I move freely between those two realms, with an openness and receptivity to both my own imagination and the intricate details of My Suburban Life? These questions led me to a place of greater awareness and compassion towards myself and my world, while continuing to challenge me to strive towards my best, most authentic work.

Endings and Beginnings, acrylic collage, 12 x 12 inches

Endings and Beginnings, acrylic collage, 12 x 12 inches

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Detail, Endings and Beginnings

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Detail, Endings and Beginnings

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Detail, Endings and Beginnings

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Detail, Endings and Beginnings

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Detail, Endings and Beginnings

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Detail, Endings and Beginnings

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Week 7: Bedtime Story- The Voyage of the Argo

Detail, Bedtime Story

This week’s collage is inspired by the joys of reading to my son at bedtime.  I wanted to visually capture the experience we share of being swept away by the story, allowing the dim light of the room to blend the real and imagined. We pile into the bed with the cat and the stuffed animals, open the big book and begin our adventure. We have been reading D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, with its heroic deeds and enchanting illustrations. The tale of Jason and the Argonauts was one of our favorite stories.  The great ship Argo, filled with heroes, sets sail on a quest for the Golden Fleece. As the sheets and blankets melt into a vast ocean, we find ourselves heading out to sea, charting a new course.

Detail, Bedtime Story

The sailing ship has been an ongoing motif in my work, a kind of avatar for the Self, forging ahead through rough waters, sailing out to the horizon in search of adventure, or returning home to be anchored in the safe harbor.  My red boat has the capacity to explore many different ways of being in the world, navigating between solitude and community, surrender and ambition, safety and risk.  In both making art and reading books, we allow for the opportunity to explore the world outside our own experience.  The collage I made this week is a strange mix: it seeks to both replicate a very real, intimate experience in my every day life, while folding it into the fantastical unknown. I was intent on capturing the specific details of my son’s favorite toys, grounding the scene in reality, while at the same time juxtaposing these familiar characters with the romance of the book illustrations and the possibility of an imaginary adventure all our own.  As a final addition, I collaged a tiny secret doorway in the upper right hand corner.  Maybe it is simply the bedroom door, the door back to reality. Or maybe it is a door that leads to yet another imaginary world.  I whisper to my son, “Be open to all possibilities.”

Bedtime Story, 12 x 12, acrylic collage