24"x24" acrylics on canvas.
Portrait of Jimmy Cliff.
Why is the title in capital letters?:
BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO SING IT AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS!!! youtu.be/BEoLjMqrjAAContent (for people who like stories more than academic jargon and existential crises):
What can I say? After nearly a year of physical therapy and all kinds of issues related to an imbalance of mind and body (and probably spirit), I am a little rusty at painting. I never really aim for the level of detail that a hyperrealist might require, nor do I ever intend to ever start on that path. (go figuuuure …..)
The process for this piece is rather intriguing to look back on, though! It’s a collaboration between selves, it seems…..
This started as a live-painting at Jefferson People’s House (which is closed now, much to my dismay!); it was actually my first live-painting “gig”, Summer 2014, “booked” by my then virtual (now quite real!) friend, Daniel, for the purposes of chilling with super-amazing musician Corey McCauley. It’s interesting to think that Corey will be one of the main performers of our next Goody Night episode (a show that was started by Daniel)... but what’s even stranger to consider is what life was like before Goody Night! HA! I can’t imagine! And it’s wonderful, from the standpoint that I’m a fairly imaginative person … but just as I couldn’t conjure ever feeling so much joy and love all in one year, I now can’t imagine my life thus far without it!Pause for an Almost Overly-Sentimental Side Note:
On that note, both Daniel and my good friend and now co-host for Goody Night, Jeffrey, are much better than me at articulating their appreciation for our team, especially when it comes to putting it to words. My aversion towards a.) repeating myself and b.) social media “proclamations” tends to get in the way of verbally expressing how much I appreciate them sometimes … but I think they’re fully aware of my sentiments. My life would be something else without them -- they consistently reaffirm my will to not only exist, but to exist wholly ….. … .. …. …. …. … … … and this, I’m confident I could
put into words; I just believe it’s for another time. Continued process:
I don’t like talking about ritual so much, but since “all-that-jazz-with-my-arm-not-working” this year, I’ve had to adopt some changes in my process. Painting still hurts!
But I manage much better.
I’ve added pilates/yoga, meditation/prayer/reflection, and spontaneous dance breaks to my creative regimen … the first item is somewhat prescribed as a result of therapy, but it gets my body prepared for art (which can be a battle with how I’m designed). The second item ensures that what results from the work done is what’s meant to result … it establishes a core purpose, a pace…. reflection on the present and people and so so sosooossoooo many things. The purpose of the third item is basically the happy medium between the first two … a true break!
What do I do as an artist? Or as an artist reborn?
More than anything, I nap a lot.
The “creation of things” is just a byproduct of a much grander process. Content:
If I chose to write about everything that’s actually happened this year … we’d probably reach all-out autobiographical levels of disclosure. (Let’s save it for conversation!)Hidden content (a journey through my ~~~~feelings~~~~):
As always, I draw my final, “ex post facto” inspiration and analysis from the themes and patterns that recur in my life throughout the course of creating a piece. By now, it feels like there’s nothing special about that …. but I think, perhaps, that the specialty exists in the fact that it’s become an inherent part of my process. I can’t separate my experience from becoming the value in what I do, even if the experience itself isn’t relentlessly visible in the final product.
My work doesn’t scream “THIS IS THE LIFE OF MOIRA!” Not unless you know me -- unless you know how to say my name, you’ve witnessed multiple factions of my “self” come alive or falter, or you’ve shared with me many moments in the present. Perhaps, at this point, we’ve spoken intimately about my color philosophy or my preoccupations with representation … my comfortable
disinclination towards subjectivity and my rebellion against nonsensical definitions of “Truth”, “Freedom”, “Vulnerability”, “Peace”, “Unity”, blahblahblah, etc…. you’ve heard my rants regarding neoliberalism and know more than one of my moral shortcomings, haha
I suppose what I mean to address in saying all of that is this: art provides so many opportunities to interact and engage with other people! It’s this wondrous starting point for dialectical relations (in layman's terms -- it strengthens something!).Distance between our joys and our sorrows:
In browsing the journals I’ve kept this last year, I noticed I wrote most often about what I call “the distance between my joy and my sorrow”. I’ve probably even mentioned in other artwork descriptions, I’m sure. But at this point, I’ve never been so certain of my experience in dealing with this spatial/temporal/spiritual/all-asdfghjkl;-encompassing concept. The more I actually tread upon this distance, the more I realize it’s not quite a linear path; however, I wouldn’t be wise enough to define the exact shape (I only have some idea).
Anyway, this concept of distance keeps entering my mind whenever I reflect. The distance between joy and sorrow is the state of being immersed in both divine goodness and what one might call deep-rooted tragedy. It’s perceiving these environments simultaneously.
I could write for days….
I could digress for days….
And the more I realize it, the less inclined I feel to write.
But there’s something both eerie and comforting in reflecting on these words, as well as the words of people before me who have described similar phenomena (KAHLIL GIBRAN!! LAURYN HILL!! MAYA ANGELOU!!! TUPAC!! J. COLE … AND all the artists I’ve gotten to interview for Goody Night!! aghhh). (aaaand yes, I have a hip-hop bias … note that musicians are also artists who are essentially “heard” in the literal sense of the word, so it’s no surprise that their experiences/stories are more accessible to audiences)
As a result, my academic work has turned into a mess of philosophical insights. I’ve used my coursework and “chapter reviews” as outlets for nagging, developing ideas that I can’t quite keep up with as an artist.Excerpt from a class reflection I wrote regarding Grief and Artists:
“...yes, artists fall under a unique category of person, but it has very little to do with the fact that they make “stuff”.
I’ve realized that true artists seem to be people who channel grief through meditative trances -- for many, these trances take place in painting or writing, composing, etc., but they’re really not limited to physical mediums. The experience of creating entails a deep channeling of the past through reflection, as well as a drive to be temporally transported to a place in the future … and in the midst of these two powerful forces, we find ourselves completely devoid of any notion of time. We become immersed in the present (just as with grief).
Fourteen hours feels like forty-five minutes.
We come out of the trance and, suddenly, there’s something on the canvas -- our brushstrokes reveal the places we mentally traveled (for instance, in hindsight, colors in my work tend to remind me of conversations/experiences I reflected on during the process). Artists are people who have developed hypersensitivity/awareness to the conditions of life in its moment to moment form -- i.e. if the present moment is stagnant, we feel its weight in all its entirety. In creating things, I would contend that artists channel all stages of grief and are able to explore them to their fullest capacity… regardless of whether or not it results in a completed masterpiece.
” Excerpt of poetry I wrote on the back of this canvas:
When I say goodbye,
I sense not that everything is lost.
Within myself I find
Both the joys & the sorrows --
the convictions & the doubt --
of all before me & all who've yet to be
When I say goodbye, I believe
that everything is lost.Closing statements:
While I didn’t write of concrete uncertainties … I just didn’t feel inclined to do so. Thank you for reading if you happened to read this far!
Here’s some inspirational goodies in case you’re looking for more….
LOVE LIBERATES!!!: youtu.be/cbecKv2xR14
BE A RAINBOW: youtu.be/0nYXFletWH4
If I could see anyone in concert: youtu.be/BEoLjMqrjAAOn Grief and Grieving
by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.
Appreciation beyond words, love love love love, etc.