Sunday, April 18, 2010

Alter(ed) Ego, Family & Friends at Flynndog in Burlington

Before I headed out for DC (see below), I put up an installation I called Stepping Into My Mother's Shoes (and genes, and brain, and…) in the new show at Flynndog called Alter(ed) Ego, Family & Friends. The show will be up from April 9 - May 30, and there will be an opening reception during the First Friday Art Walk in Burlington on Friday, May 7, from 6-8 PM. Most of the show was installed on April 7, after all the artists got together to hear and read each other's statements and bios.

My piece used my paintings (and my mother's drawings) from our collaboration called Jungian Journey. Additionally, there was a dress affixed to the wall with buttons, and a pair of my mother's baby shoes. I've printed my statement about the piece underneath the photo below, which was taken by Tina Escaja, one of the artists. It was dark at night, so I'll try to take a brighter photo the next time I'm there during the daytime.

Stepping Into My Mother's Shoes
(and genes, and brain, and…)

There's something about long-time relationships - whether with family, friends, or colleagues - that makes us real, by which I mean that when we share history and experience, it grounds us in time and space. For example, having participated in exhibits here at Flynndog many times in the past makes me know this space, know Bren, and be known by them. We all have many people and places that are part of our circles of intimacy, whom we know and by whom we are known. Our relationship with parents is particularly rich and powerful, as we not only share history and experience, but also the very substance of our bodies and being, both nurture and nature.

This installation contains pieces of a project I did in 1997 called Jungian Journey. When my mother, Sandy McKinney was almost 50, she joined a Jungian women's group near Santa Fe, New Mexico and embarked on a series of "guided active imaginations", then entered into a more intensive analysis with a Jungian therapist. In the course of this exploration she was encouraged to draw the powerful characters that were emerging from her unconscious. She made 14 pencil drawings and many years later wrote about the whole experience in an unpublished manuscript entitled Promethea.

The small drawings always interested me, and when I came to be about 50 myself, I decided to do a series of paintings responding to these drawings. I tried to universalize my mother's characters a bit by giving them more generic titles than her more personal ones. I called them speaking portraits because they state their case in chalk-like utterances directed to the viewer.

Other elements in the installation make reference to my painting series called The Red Dress, in which the red dress represents the body, or the garment of meat in which we are all clothed. This time the dress is blue, the color of my mother's baby slippers, sky, and water. We are not only meat (red), but also mind (blue). And buttons are falling through the whole thing, connecting me to my mother, and you to me.


Jill Herrick-Lee said...

It was fun to see this work in its parts and now even better to see it whole.
I find it interesting to note, blue is also the color of communication and self expression. It fits perfect here Janet.

Unknown said...

It's great to hear your explanation of the work - definitely increases my connection with what's going on.