It always starts small for me. An image, a faint idea.
And it grows until it becomes an entire body of work. A body of work drenched in long hours and weeks and months, and mulling it over and through and through.
Until finally it comes together, to be shared.
“Root”, Linocut Print with Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 19″ x15″, 2011
This is my new work. It’s a little like bringing a baby out in public for the first time–there is a fierce sense of pride and excitement, combined with the tender quality of that which is new.
“Root”, Detail, Linocut Print with Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 19″x15″, 2011
It is fitting that this work carries those mixed feelings of motherhood, because that is precisely where this work began.
In the winter of 2010, my husband and I visited home for Christmas carrying with us our four month old daughter. Here was her introduction to so much of our family, and our first foray into holidays as parents. We were still fatigued from middle of the night feedings, and felt so proud and simultaneously clumsy in our new roles.
While we were there, I happened across a National Geographic Magazine that captured my imagination and became the springboard for the work you see today.
National Geographic, Winter 2010, Photo credit to Jerome G. Rozen Jr. and John S. Ascher
Aren’t these incredible? As the article states, these are the nests built by bees living in the Middle East. Rather than laying in a hive, these bees dig a hole in the earth. Then they gather flower petals from all their surrounding area, and one by one layers the petals to create this nest. When the bee is finished, the nest is sealed to be predator and water resistant, and its young can grow in safety.
“Exhale”, Linocut Print with Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 8×10″, 2011
This idea captivated me. I read and re-read the article, staring at these gorgeous vessels made by insects. I reflected on myself as a new mother–the brave and tremulous parts of me, and realized that like these nests, parenting is built layer by layer.
“Origin”, Linocut Print with Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 15″x19″, 2011
“Origin”, Detail, Linocut Print with Watercolor and Graphite on Paper, 15″x19″, 2011
It is this act of layering that makes parenting so complex and ultimately, creative. Here I am, gathering from any source I have available to me. Cobbling together from all different places, a life for my daughter that is both beautiful and strong.
“When Crickets Sing”, Watercolor, Colored Pencil and Graphite on Paper, 8″x10″, 2011
“When Crickets Sing”, Detail, Watercolor, Colored Pencil and Graphite on Paper, 8″x10″, 2011
This post is the first half of the body of work. The rest is forthcoming.
This exploration has allowed me to put images to what has largely been a silent and intuitive process. They are subtle but sometimes bold—like much of what it means to parent.
And not only to parent. Certainly not only to parent. But to build anything worthwhile, layer by tentative layer.