I've been developing a new painting in acrylic, Southwest inspired. I'm just moving along in that mode of thinking since the painting trip to Taos that I didn't get to go on. Maybe its a kind of longing for the feelings that a trip out west usually generates in me. But, beyond that, There is something in the traditional Native American way of life that is so primary. They were a people connected to the basics of living. The sun comes up. Evening falls. They need warmth and shelter and food. Their belief in nature's elements grows out of rhythms of life. And their belief in their gods is inspired by existence as it presents itself to them. Needs, fears, joys, the desire to express what they feel or hope for. They exist within the framework of natural forces, and they acknowledge that as controlling their wellbeing. It's not about a man made church. It's about what seems elemental. There also seems to be a magical quality about what they have believed in all time. And it is true that natural elements often wiped them out, because of lack of knowledge, or lack of mobility, or warfare. In that way their lives were not idyllic.
In our own society, urban or suburban, we look to the new media to inform us about life and to shape our opinions. We are connected with life and other people via TV, Ipod, Telephone. Should I venture out? Is it too cold? should I take an umbrella? What is the price of gasoline? Am I dressed in a "cool " way? Should I wear Ugg boots? Is my car upscale enough? Is my house better than someone elses? What defines us? We have moved so far away from basic existence that we hardly recognize ourselves.
Perhaps my need to paint the Southwest is the desire to connect with the American Indian. Or perhaps it's about the beauty of the land in the Southwest, its colores, and its textures. Is it a means of connecting with who I am? It just gets inside of me and I can't shake it off. When I was in school at Indiana state University, and also teaching there, in my early to middle 20's, it was the time of life being arty, living in communes. I would wear fringes on leather belts and vests and wear my hair in 2 ponytails, one on each side, and wrap them with cloth to look like an Indian. Then I would sometimes tell people I was an Indian, and with my dark hair at that time and brown eyes, and my mode of dress, they would be convinced. I was simply playing with the idea of who I was. In the same way, I wore skimpy tank tops and short cut off jeans,for my shorts on days I went to pottery classes, and then I was a hippie (in style alone). So I, even then had the desire to feel how it was to be someone other than the small town girl I actually was.
I'm smallltown, and suburban, and when I see people in any inner city I feel that they experience some painful existence, but it's also connected to life's basic needs, too. I don't long to live the way they do, or to live the life of the Tribal Indian. But I sometimes feel that the people like myself are removed someway from themselves and the core of their being.
Creating artworks is a way of trying to connect to my true self. To feel the beauties as well as the harshness that exists in life. I want to dwell on it when I paint. I want to explore the essence of being. It's a challenging process, and I don't always understand it, but it's a search for reality of a kind. Right now the path I am traveling is wrapped up with Southwest imagery. It will change, perhaps at some point, or I will simply find an additional direction, one that doest't exclude what already speaks to me, but one that adds to that greater understanding of what it means to be a human on earth as we know it.
When I complete that painting that I'm immersed in, I'll post it, and perhaps the stages that led up to its finished form. I think I'll become satisfied with it in the next week. So near , and yet so far!