“When God demanded light,
he didn’t banish darkness.
Instead, he invented
ebony and crows . . . “ – Why Are Your Poems So Dark, Linda Pastan
“Pensive” is a word that has been used to describe me, yet my father referred to me as someone who would look for a pony when presented with a mound of manure. Sometimes I’ve speculated that my “pensive Pollyanna” emerged from curiously studying and occasionally “excavating” the mound.
At times, my work is construed as “dark”, and every now and then, I’ve wondered if I chose an artistic career so I might examine some of the places I’ve feared most. Having grown up in a small town, in a relatively conventional family, my experiences were limited. Yet even then, I silently questioned many proclaimed truths. Only later did my creative work shed light on some of life’s darker regions, challenging many of my long-held beliefs.
I think this piece, drenched each day in the studio’s diffused morning light, evolved from that shadowy plane. It began simply, but grew in complexity as I layered each item-- the shattered body, the dark butterflies, the Sylvia Plath verse. But not until I selected the final piece, a broken chain, did it reach its unexpected conclusion. The chain was what remained of a necklace I’d received from a family friend, someone who’d brightened my childhood days. Yet the fragment’s selection reminded me that my friend, like Plath, had taken her own life-- unbeknownst to me, sitting under a tree.
Throughout my lifetime, I’ve found my closest friends to be those who shared the darkness as well as the light. Conversely, I’ve found my greatest betrayals to be the moments I was unwilling to stand in the dark with another. Perhaps my artistic work urges me to confront that deficit.
The day I received an "award of excellence" for this piece, I felt both an affirmation for my work and my friend- an acceptance, or perhaps a reconciliation of some of the dark and light of our lives. It seemed a creative force had been cast upon us, gently freeing us from crippling expectations, many of which were our own. We, too, for a brief moment, seemed awash in the morning light.