Hathor with Cow's Ears from the Sacred Deities of Ancient Egypt folio
When I pause to reflect, I know I have felt a kinship with places of enchantment, enigmas, and paradoxes. Drawn to the claims of memory and the startling conundrums inherent in dreams, I have explored the elusive passages in the white rabbit’s subterranean habitat. Through the ceremonial act of making images and prose, I have sought to find a way to try to unravel the tenuous nature of life bound to the inevitability of death and to celebrate the terror and beauty of the natural world. In the process, I have made drawings, photographic prints, prose poems, collaborated with musicians and other artists, and given professional presentations on the nature of metaphor, memory, and dream. A deep conviction that metaphor is not an abstraction, not an idea, not even an idea about a feeling, but the very feeling itself—a feeling that arises spontaneously and unbidden to the surface to take the form of imagery—has guided my teaching and my creative work. The opportunity as a teacher to work with generations of gifted artists and the privilege of witnessing the lives of my two children unfold led to and deepened my interest in memory and dream as potential sources for works of art. The invitations to speak on the nature of the creative process for professional psychoanalytic societies has compelled me to think more deeply about how images come into being and why we know we need them alive and flourishing within the bedrock of our lives.
The arrival of children in the middle years of my life had been preceded by decades of solitude, of long hours working first with drawing and then for over a decade with the photographic medium. I found the process of shielding images made with light from the light inexplicably intriguing. Following the death of one of my fraternal twin brothers, I began once again to draw and through the ritual act of binding dust to paper found a way to renew and celebrate my connection to the natural world. During the ferocious years of parenting, I had but broken fragments of time. Confronted by the escalating unpredictable demands within my personal life, I embraced other pathways of expression, deepening my engagement with writing, exploring performance poetry, the presentation of prints and prose in small-scale sculptural objects, and speaking on the nature of metaphor from an artist’s perspective. When I was drawn to photograph the sacred deities of the ancient Egyptian pantheon, I felt compelled to set my cumbersome Hasselblad aside and convert to digital media. As a single woman traveling alone in a foreign land and photographing in the dimly lit, confined spaces of tombs and temples, I knew that I needed to work as unobtrusively as possible. The recent release of two artist’s books, Shadowland and A Hymn to Hands bound by Don Glaister, has created a new format in which to pair my photographs and prose and has given me cause for celebration as I approach eighty.
The formal list of exhibitions, performances, presentations and publications in my resume’ creates an artificial illusion of clarity about the nature of my life journey. It does not begin to describe unpremeditated moments of sheer joy, the despair that accompanies “sparrow nights,” Chekov’s phrase for passages through the dark regions of the soul, or unforeseen accidents of fate that have shaped my life journey in strange and wonderful ways. I have loved, as I believe many artists do, feeling caught in the indescribable, unpredictable, unforeseen web of moments that lie at the heart of the creative process.