Thursday, September 3, 2009

Feel a little naked...

It's been a few weeks, and I was sort of bashful about it, but the show is up! I suppose it's hard for me to expose so much of myself to the world, as these pieces are extremely personal to me. It's like "Dear Diary, today I will let every stranger who happens by to open the little door to my soul and have a looksee." There's also the not-so-small issue of me not wanting to, well, toot my own horn.

Having said that, I am extremely proud of my work. The opening was a wonderful success, the kids behaved themselves, and I loved seeing my old piece I made back in college. It was like meeting an old friend again after a decade and a half. Seeing my former self hanging up there on the wall was quite surreal.

Here, for your enjoyment, is the rest of the artist statement giving you some idea of what the hell you are looking at:

When reading Moby-Dick, your average young woman may initially struggle in finding a character with whom she may relate. The novel is seriously lacking in anyone of the female persuasion. But it wasn’t long before I did find a character that spoke to me – Queequeg. This strong, mysterious figure, covered in tattoos and carrying shrunken heads, offering food to a small wooden idol in his room at the inn, well, I was smitten. What intrigued me most about this cannibal prince of the Pacific Islands were the tattoos covering his body. They were described as “a living parchment…a riddle to unfold.” In Chapter 110, Queequeg in his Coffin, they are further explained: “a departed prophet and seer of his island…had written out on his a complete theory of the heavens and the earth, and a mystical treatise on the art of attaining truth.”

This made me wonder, what would my coffin lid look like? What are my theories of heaven and earth, and how do I go about attaining my own truth? These questions led me to create a series of body casts, my own snug-fitting coffin lids, at different points of my life. “Queequeg in Her Coffin” is the first cast that was made. Here you see a sophomore in college, just starting out into adulthood, wondering who she is and what life has in store for her. Her arms are crossed in a slightly self-conscious manner, and the writing that covers her is barely legible, as if these truths and theories have only begun to take shape in this girl’s mind. The writing includes journaling, poetry, passages from Moby-Dick, as well as pieces from literature that made impressions on this artist.

“Life Buoy” is the most recent body cast in the series. The girl has grown up, has married, and is producing a child. Much as Queequeg’s coffin became a life saving vessel for Ishmael, my body served as a life-giving vessel for my daughter Kallisto. Her name originates in mythology; the nymph Kallisto is turned into a bear, and then is flung into the night sky, creating Ursa Major. Her constellation is depicted on the front of the cast. On the reverse is a collage of images, some of my daughter. I then covered it in writing. Some of it is journaling, where I recall the tumultuous ocean of a pregnancy this life buoy carried us through. I also include the retelling of her name, a passage from Moby Dick, the introduction from “Letter to My Daughter” by Maya Angelou, and other bits and pieces of my life as a mother of a very sassy little daughter.


nanno said...

amazing, Abby, and very moving!
I am so proud of you, not to sound too much like a mommy.
How long does the show run?

Halfmad said...

Very cool!

abbydid said...

The show will be up through the first week of October, so there's plenty of time to still check it out.