One day, after two years of painting large politically-themed paintings, my heart had grown heavy, burdened by holding the suffering in the world.
I was carrying my brush as an activist might carry a sword, digesting and distilling particularly horrific events into narrative form onto canvas.
I felt by bearing witness and acknowledging upheaval, chaos, and war in a new context, these paintings might magically change something in us.
One day I threw up my hands and said to the ghosts around me.
“Today I’m painting animals!”
And a group of paintings called animals with teeth were born. Painting them brought me joy. I was finding I needed to reflect joy as well as suffering.
The baring of their teeth was important.
An act of power.
I was baring my teeth against injustice and celebrating joy at the same time.
I didn’t set out to paint animals. The animals came to me. So it is with how I work. I don’t know when ‘themes’ will present themselves. I remain open to what begs to come forward.
With these paintings, I jumped full circle back into my Tex-Mex folk art roots. Story telling, and pattern making, are central to Mexican folk art as water is to myth. Raised in Texas, my family spent every Christmas near Brownsville Texas, the border town next to Matamoros, Mexico. I loved my trips into Mexico. The culture seeped into my pores: the markets, the smell of tortillas and cabrito (goat) cooking on open fires, the vibrant colors and crafts and music as well as the language marked me.
Spirituality threads everywhere in my world and is the cloth I am made of. I was raised in a traditional Jewish household, steeped in ritual and story. At Hebrew school we were taught early to question everything. We were also taught the concept of Tikun Olam: The art of acting from kindness to perfect or repair the world.
Painting and writing have been my tools for delving. I understood from an early age objects as well as the land are infused with spirit.
Dots presently lead the image-making.
Dots as points of light are energetic origins or infinity itself.
As circles, dots can become windows into consciousness. As points, dots can punctuate beginnings and endings.
We all begin and end somewhere.
In this moment the dots arrange themselves as animals, as land, and trees and recently into Robots. My great hope is that these paintings will delight and remind us that we and everything are simply punctuated points of conscious colors. What if we began our conversations from here as ‘sparks’ more alike than different.
Perhaps what the world just might need is an infusion of joy. ….and teeth… as we embrace who we are.