The idea for this series developed from a couple of places. I have always loved clotheslines and often put them in my paintings. Then last year my husband did a trek in Nepal and came home with some Tibetan prayer flags that he hung from our deck. They looked beautiful waving in the breeze and I found myself wondering what the words on them meant. I began to think about what my own prayer flags might look like and what words would be on them.
I decided to do some prayer flag paintings. I soon found that my strings of flags often looked like clotheslines, so I started to do this on purpose. I interspersed flags with the laundry on the line and sometimes put writing on the clothes.
The flags and clothes may take center stage or may be part of a larger landscape. Sometimes there are cats or birds on the lines. In one painting, Illumination of Necessity, the flags are symbolic images of what is being “prayed” for: a home, clothing, and light.
Many of the flags have words on them. These words aren’t meant to be legible. They are bits and pieces of thoughts, poems, song lyrics, and other things that are important to me. They are written directly into the paint or onto collage papers that are then glued into the painting.
See more information about this series on my blog.
For years I have incorporated words into my paintings in a variety of ways. As I started painting for this exhibit, I became fascinated with the concept of ‘palimpsest.’ To see complete and enlarged images of the paintings, click on the thumbnails. To see the title, size, and price, scroll the curser over the enlarged painting image.
Wikipedia: A palimpsest is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, from which the text has been scraped or washed off so that the page can be reused for another document. Parchment and other materials for writing or engraving upon were expensive to produce, and in the interest of economy were re-used wherever possible.
One thing about these “washed/cleaned” manuscript pages is that often the original text wouldn’t be completely obliterated. The residual writing remained and can be seen as a kind of ghostly image under the later script. I have worked to create this kind of imagery by using layers of paint ad collage materials that are semi-transparent. It is not my intention that the script in my paintings will be legible. I write things that are important to me (quotes, thoughts, poetry, song lyrics) on the collage materials that I glue into the paintings, but then I further hide the words. I want the writing to be obscured so that its essence is deep in the painting but isn’t clear.
For me, a palimpsest is a metaphor for the human condition where, as we go through life we have experience after experience. Our memories are layered over older ones and can become changed and distorted as a result of this. Who we are is made up in this way. This series of paintings represents our human layered-memory experience.
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