Friday, December 21, 2012

Return

It's been a while since I've been in the studio. Thoughts, emotions, and images come to surface here. I uncover my soul.
My palette
So much has happened in the last year. Final half of my Sabbatical with travel to France and Italy (experiencing all the magnificent art from centuries back), and then back to work with little break and a major restructuring of my internal processes as a manager and as a faculty member.
Migration of monarchs
Then of course, I myself almost die this Fall from the littlest thing—a wasp sting. But the confrontation with my own demise is palpable and strangely reassuring. Not as sure anymore about the point of living to 104.

Then there was the young woman in the Boston subway and confronting yet another aspect of self and being alive. 
For reference
 Last weekend we hosted the EMC and MFA staff and faculty and their families. It used to be that it was a slightly older set of children but they have all grown and are now in college or graduated into adulthood. The newest bunch are little guys just figuring out the rules and teaching us at the same time. It was so lovely to see them play again with each other.

What I keep, what I let go
Which brings me round again to those little children in Newtown—the shock of the loss of innocents—and our innocence. Perhaps it is the season, or where one goes when the horrendous is encountered—to something that can offer hope and condolence, but the accounts in the Bible where children are mentioned keep coming into my mind. Beyond the story of Christmas I can think of two.
From the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Christmas tree display Infant Jesus
Attributed to Giuseppe Sammartino (1720–1793)
There is the Massacre of the Innocents in Matthew 2:16-18 which seems eerily to mimic the horrendous nature of what has occurred in our own present day:
When [the Magi] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. Get up, he said, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him. So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: 
"Out of Egypt I called my son." 
 When Herod realised that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
"A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
The Holy Innocents by Giotto di Bondone.
However there is the story of Christ and the children in Matthew 9:14. This is the one from which I draw comfort.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Emil Nolde Christ and the Children 1910
And so returning to my studio all these reflections overflow my heart. I rediscover that I have saved one of the wasps and a butterfly found this summer. On my noon walk with Addie I find a beautiful leaf. And what I visualize are the tiny souls of the children, like the monarchs, flying home and being welcomed into the brilliant light. 
In the church yard
It is that which I start to paint this Christmas season.
The joy of return.

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