Conversation Pieces: stories intertwined
Lockdown keeps me from planned work in my Cotton Factory Studio in the summer and fall of 2020, so I take hundreds of pictures of waves on the shore beside my cabin. In Hamilton I paint on small torn up pieces of paper in my living room – exploring an old china coffee set made during WWII in Czechoslovakia. We all have our approaches and methods; this is how I regulate the stress of pandemic lockdown and sweeping global change.
On Winter Solstice I catch covid-19. Ten days after my quarantine is over the second wave of infection sends us into Lockdown Two; strict province-wide stay at home orders. I continue with the small pieces, grow ever more fascinated by ellipses, by light on and through porcelain, drawing order within chaos. Research tells me that this is a coffee set, made in Poschetzau Germany at J.S. Maier & Co, during the second world war – but how do they know these dates, when the company was founded in 1890?
My coffee set was made in this factory after 1938 and before 1945, in a time of violent, violent global turbulence and permanent change. I’m humbled by this story. Each piece of the porcelain set that I’m drawing is now humanized – each painted mark made by a steady hand while the world changed and the war raged all around. I find places on some pieces where the hand slipped, where the lines aren’t perfect. Now I’m painting these pieces not just for my own relief of stress, but also for the gilders and workers at J.S. Maier, for the founders and their families who died at the hands of Hitler’s Third Reich.
The torn pieces fit back together like a puzzle into their original places within a 40” x 30” ground painting – the puzzle of us, separate in a changing world while necessary changes arise for acknowledgement. This felt therapeutic, satisfying – a reconstruction after isolation, reconnection after lockdown, even across apparent divides.
We re-emerge after lockdowns, yes. But we are different from who we were in 2019. We share a new preciousness for life and gentleness. Perhaps, after these months of living with ourselves in the lost-ness of isolation, we are stronger. We feel a new sovereignty in our souls.
The next stage of the Conversation Pieces project is to take the work into actual conversation with gathered people and, with thoughtfulness explore the next layer of the puzzle that is us. In times of great adversity and stress, we make beauty together, we humans.
January 2020 marked the beginning of my third year of this self-directed Hamilton Residency. The Pandemic happened in year two, and I found myself working in my apartment, unable to get to my studio. All galleries and performing art spaces had been closed to the public during lockdowns, and so like my music and art pals, I had to learn the business of online gallery presentation and sales.
But I think we can stretch ourselves further. I wanted to make the show an artistic statement of its own – a ‘performed’ exhibition, in response to the covid pandemic and restrictions, in response to the sweep of global change. I’ve had the pieces beautifully framed, and hung a Pop-up Exhibition in the same apartment where they were conceived and made, as well as published in an online gallery.
Now that restrictions are lifting you are invited to come for tea, and have a look at the show. Anyone who can’t come in person can book a personal tour with me by phone between July 26 and August 6, 2021. (links for this will be published on July 26).