This was originally a self portrait and in many ways it still is, but the painting has morphed over time, much as I continuously change. I’m not saying I don’t exist, only that I am always learning more about myself.
I didn’t grow up in Kansas. As some of you may have discerned, I am a transplant from the Pacific Northwest, but I have roots in Kansas dating back to my great great grandparents, and now I am married into a family from Kansas calling it my home. That being said, I am often torn between these worlds as loved ones reside in both places, and I also yearn for the green, luscious and wet beauty of Portland. But, I’ve learned something interesting here. Something unexpected. I’ve discovered a different kind of beauty all together and something else that I’m still trying to grasp.
When I walked around these structures I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of connection with all the history of human being- I found myself captivated by the graceful yet dilapidated boards and the way they have come to rest by leaning on one another- the angles and seams, shadows and light…simply mesmerizing. There is something for me in these places- a part of me buried under boards and years of struggle. My heritage. Found in the middle of the continental United States. In Kansas. Sweet and unexpected treasures I’ve happened upon in my wandering. Needless to say, I’m glad I’m here:)
These are photographs which I took while on a day excursion with the family to see ghost towns in Kansas.
My son, age 21, sent me a picture awhile back of a little clay mask he fashioned, just to let me know he was getting in touch with his artistic side, which, just as he predicted, made his mama very happy:) In response to his work I created this ekphrastic translation in gouache and charcoal. It was a fun way to spend some quality time.
Sometimes in the artistic process I find that what I’m going for gets away from me. I set out with something in mind, and I may even like several steps along the way, and then before I can stop the momentum, I’ve lost it altogether. I’m in the practice of photographing some of my work as it’s in progress, and sometimes when I revisit it I find something that moves me. These are moments of simple satisfaction.
it is always what bounds or limits a thing that gives it its character,
precision, distinctness, perfection.
It is what isolates it, encompasses it, separates it from the rest,
encloses it within itself and leads it back to itself.
Thereby it subsists, is distinct, is known…”
When I painted this I wanted to capture my experience of an emotional storm and it’s reverberation through space. The two halves fit together this way, although I’ve often felt as if they should be placed vertically, as winds blow from many directions.
How do we take account for the many influences on our lives? It’s a question I often ponder and struggle with. -Holly Suzanne