I recall as a child loving the alone time I was allowed in bathrooms. The assurance of a locked door and walls surrounding one's own personal space provided meditative retreats from chattery school days. In those brief little pockets of solitude I remember staring at tile floors and walls and watching a secret dance that the lines would do when you tried not to look at them. I would pick an intersection of two lines in the tile pattern and try to keep my eyes fixed solidly to that point. After only a few seconds the entire pattern would begin to dissolve and glide. If you could keep your eyes fixed, the dance would continue with certain lines disappearing altogether and other line firing comets of bright light along their spines. As soon as my eyes darted from the original intersection to observe this new phenomena, the tiles would come back into focus and I was staring at grout again. It became easier to affix my eyes to a spot for longer periods of time and resulting shows were giddy moments of calm for me. I indulged in the dissolving patterns and as that word implies- "dis solve"- it was a counter weight to the schooling, allowing mystery to overtake answers.
I have been staring at my face in a magnified mirror for over 7 years now. Patterns emerge and dissolve. One grid-like pattern has asserted itself and I see it with clarity after about an hour of work. It came most strongly into focus when I was working on the embroidery in a previous piece, "Father", but with each piece new connections show themselves and new directions and axises stand out. When I was working on The Geometry of Happy Children, one of the lines began standing out and demanding attention. It was the line that ran along the side of the nose approximately where the bone ends and the cartilage begins. I actually grew annoyed with this line's insistence, and erased it hoping to quiet its demands but it only added significance and so I drew it back in. Paper never forgets though, and that line kept its heat and at times I could see little else. Looking back and forth from mirror to paper, the line started taking its place on the surface of my skin. When my eyes weren't on that line, but focused elsewhere, it would begin a trampy little dance for attention in bright magentas and blues until my eyes would dart over to see, and back to flesh it would go.
In concluding the series that made up the show, "Divining," I felt a strong pull toward again allowing mystery to overtake answers. The images from that series felt like logical answers to the events of my life. Something in me began rooting for illogic, and again that line on the side of my nose started winking at me. I was very hesitant to give the significance of my work over to a great unknown- the great unknown- THE GREAT UNKNOWN. There is little one can do to reign the grandeur of such a vast question mark, but I had a starting point that seemed like it was not to be ignored, and felt a vow forming in me to give what I could to this thing. Time, focus and more paper.
I started down a path of investigation led by what my eyes saw when they weren't looking, and what questions were flung off along the way. "What the hell does that line want?" "Where do those colors come from?" "Does it catch the light or do my eyes create the lights?" "In chemistry, likes dissolve likes. Do I have light inside myself that is able to read the external light and turn it into legible information for my brain?" "Since we are physically made up of material that was at some point the atomic substance of a star, do we not retain some relationship to light bodies?" "Are we to light, what water is to steam?"
This is the starting point for this piece- an insistent line and the subtle lights it illuminated itself with. As I surrendered to it and gave it the authority to lead, the line began to divide and light poured out. The image is wonderfully startling and I see it as a rapturous thing. The face is in a state of concerned ecstatic transformation and connecting with that single eye, I feel like I am seeing a very private moment, that he is being caught in an act. I imagine it is very similar to the open mouthed gaze I wore when staring at those tiles, and in which I was most comfortable behind locked doors. It is a frightening thing to put that private moment into a spotlight on a world stage. I was comforted to find that Jung was also frightened and mesmerized by his unconscious images. I think there is a palpable fear in this piece.
My largest obstacle became my internal editor who feared my work would begin reading like a Dan Brown novel. I recognized this as a fearful little voice and set about calming him. I found assurance in the very natural way I took to the questioning, but still enjoy the assurance of locking the door to my studio and insuring my solitude won't be gazed in upon by judgmental eyes. To some extent it is that very editor I lock out every morning.
I had an engaging conversation with my mother-in-law about what really happened when Mary saw the angel Gabriel, a body that was made of light, emerging out of the ether. This conversation helped me to see my ponderings as timeless and universal and made it easier to unlock that door and allow other eyes to look in upon my own questions about lights within.
The title of this piece is about this mysterious source- MYSTERIOUS SOURCE- whatever you want to call it, and giving authority to its guidance. I realize that what I am meant to offer back to that mystery will make its way out of me, that all the offerings I am too shy or insecure to show will seep out somehow.