ARCHIVES

Index

spacer

 

LIFE AS MYTH RETROSPECTIVE 2011
spacer
2006 - 2011

A group of Parisian art students. ca. 1896.

 

 

Myth is an attempt to narrate a whole human experience, of which the purpose is too deep, going too deep in the blood and soul, for mental explanation or description.
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) novelist, poet, essayist

Symbolism was a multi-disciplinary arts movement, most active in the late nineteenth century. The Symbolist movement rejected naturalism and realism in favor of spirituality, the imagination and dreams. One development which contributed to the movement was the emergence of modern psychology.

The work of both Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Carl G. Jung (1875-1961) was particularly influential to the development of Symbolism. During this period, they provided ground-breaking insights into the interpretation of imaginative, symbolic and dream material. Freud believed that repressed aggression and sexuality are at the root of human behavior. In his therapeutic practice, he explored dream material for insights into these unconscious drives and their effect on human behavior. He noted that some patients repeatedly relived past traumas in their dreams. According to Freud, over the course of repetitive dreaming, the dreamer often added details about the nature of the original injury. The function of this process was to help the patient obtain mastery over the traumatic event.

Jung, a protege of Freud, disputed his mentor's premise of aggression and sexuality as the sole motivating forces behind human behavior. His areas of research broadened to include not only dream material, but art, mythology, religion and philosophy. His major contributions to the field of psychoanalysis are the Jungian archetypes and the concepts of synchronicity and the collective unconscious.

Paul Gauguin organized the first Symbolist art exhibition in 1889-90 at the Paris World's Fair. Better known Symbolist visual artists include Redon, Gustav Klimt, William Blake (as both artist and poet), Edvard Munch, Gustav Moreau and Arnold Bocklin. Historians credit Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) as the forerunner of Symbolist poetry. Symbolist poets include William Butler Yeats, Stéphen Mallarmé and T. S. Eliot. The extensive list of Symbolist authors includes Edgar Allen Poe, George MacDonald, and Oscar Wilde.

 

spacer

LIFE AS MYTH RETROSPECTIVE 2011
spacer
2006 - 2011

A farm mother and her child. ca. 20th Century. National Archives.

Someone in the southeastern United States recently bought one of my paintings and yesterday I mailed it to him. In order to save shipping costs, I packed the box myself. The end result weighed just over seven pounds and measured an unwieldy 33" by 41" by 3". In other words, though light in weight, the box was still long enough and wide enough to be extremely difficult to carry. Unwieldy-ness notwithstanding, since the FedEx satellite store was only a few blocks away, I decided to carry it there myself.

While making my way up Broadway, the box slipped and shifted constantly. I tried several ways of carrying it but none worked for very long. Finally I had an inspiration and lifted the box up to my head and in that way I successfully made it to the FedEx store. What a comical sight I must have made, like some Dr. Seuss imagining -- a quite tall, so freckled, white lady with a box growing out of her head.

Which brings me to what happened yesterday on the way to the FedEx store: I experienced the workings of my mythic eye. My lens on the world is my "mythic eye." That means I tend to use symbols and metaphors when interpreting the world around me. And yesterday my mythic eye contemplated the spectacle of walking down Broadway with a box growing out of my head and saw something larger.

It's kind of hard to explain but in that particular moment I felt connected to other women, possibly all other women, women and how they work through their day, whether raising children or governing countries or walking around with boxes on their head. And I saw my part in that bigger picture as both unique and yet also universal. For a few moments I experienced the beautiful groove of my life and how amazing that felt to be in it. And interestingly, that moment came not at my easel -- but while managing the details of my daily life.

dancerwriteractressactivistsingernurseswriter

(top to bottom) A group of women weaving, Italy, ca. 1900; Olga Preograjenska, Russian prima ballerina, 1896; Charlotte Bronte, writer and poet, 1854; Rosa Parks, civil rights activist, pictured here with Dr. Martin Luther King, 1955; A mother and children walking, San Francisco, ca. 1910; EllenTerry, British actress, as Beatrice in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, 1908; Mahalia Jackson, gospel singer, 1962; A group of polio ward nurses, 1958; Virginia Woolf, feminist writer, 1882-1941

 

 

spacer