Sunday, May 21, 2017

WINNERS AND LOSERS

“What a fucking joke”
-Madam Pinky in Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel, The White Tiger, describing society and class 
Dearest Readers,

I return to my blog after a winter hiatus, and a spate of wild painting.  More on that in a later blog…

I’ll pick up where I left off in January…sitting and thinking at my frozen upstairs bedroom window, now moist and green below, waiting for something to happen.

The opening quote refers to me…silly me. Back in January, I proudly attended the opening reception of “ArtsConnect”, a juried show at Catamount Arts Center inSt. Johnsbury Vermont.

I had been picked by Andrea Rosen, the curator from the Fleming Museum at the University of Vermont to be included in an exhibition of sixty-one local and New England artists. It felt good to “win”.  I showed two fabric sculptures created before I moved to Vermont. 
The Spinmeister_13in x 13in x 17in_acrylic on fabric_found objects and mixed media

The Fanatic_6.5in x 11in_fabric_acrylic_glass-beads and mixed media



Miss Perfect_8x20x3.5_fabric_wood_acrylic_ glass_papier mache_bricks_dynel and lightbulbs
Getting in the show stirred up the bones of another creature I’d made years earlier –“Miss Perfect”, a trickster masking the little Catholic schoolgirl in a blue jumper and white blouse who just wanted to please.
Academy of St. Aloysius Grammar School uniform made from memory, 2011
What did not feel good was “losing” during the awards ceremony mid-way through the art show. I would like to declare that it doesn’t matter, that I’m an artist just for the fun and fulfillment of creating, but I discover again and again that pride, PRIDE is laughing in a prominent corner of my brain. I try, but he (she?) will not relinquish my neural core. I can see her though. Some would say that everything is a game. We learn the unstated rules, then elbow or co-operate our way through life. Poets like Maya Angelou, I Know Why theCaged Bird Singsand Rumi remind us of the cages of power and social norms–

Take someone who doesn’t keep score,
Who’s not looking to be richer, or afraid of losing,
Who has not the slightest interest even
In his own personality: He’s free
-Jalaluddin Rumi–Open Secret:Versions of Rumi

Don’t get me wrong. The winners’ artworks were good. I smiled and clapped, but I was not happy.

“There is no key. There is no key.”
I’m quoting here again from Aravind Adiga’s wonderfully disturbing novel, The White Tiger about the roles and the rules of survival between the haves and have-nots in contemporary Indian society. There is a deadly comedy to this game of winning and losing inside the metaphorical “Rooster Coop”–an unlocked cage stuffed with chickens waiting to be sold in the markets for dinner. The poor creatures do not see that the door is open!
Trapped_25in x38in_Ink and acrylic wash on paper_1994
This goes for America too of course, down to my nascent wishes and desires. I know a few people who seem outside of the cage. I admire them and sometimes see glimpses of light in myself. 
In all fairness to me, I’m inching along on that enlightened path.  Age, self-kindness and experience in the world tell me to go easy on the self-blame.

So, as Spring bursts from the starting gate, I’m at the window again contemplating the wish or need to be a perfect winner as the creatures and things in nature win and lose, live and die on a daily basis around me. What I see is a wild raucous balance. Some say it’s survival of the fittest, but to me there is a powerful balancing act between the parts and the whole of everything . There is no cage.

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