I know this always happens. But everytime I go through this incubation time, it is frustrating and maddening. I wait and look, see and wait, search and try…and nothing moves the needle. It is stale, cold and hopeless. I am thinking something is happening now…and funny how it is all fusing together (and who knows what will happen). It all clicked when I revisited the work of the wonderful artist, Laylah Ali (b. 1968).
I first saw her work at Mass MOCA in an exhibit and I was stunned by her work, her simple vision and the design of her pieces. Since then, I have gravitated towards her images (often in Miami at Art Basel)—finding joy in ther clear perspective, the underlying wit and flow. I remembered her line work last night and it clicked with the work I have been studying of Ganga Devi (1928- 1991). Funny that this wonderful artist who now teaches at Williams College, and this intense Madhubani artist had an overlapping sense of line, of spirit, of design and use of white space. Now, how do I fuse it with what I have —? I love Ali’s closely cropped portraits of these spooky, androgenous people ( I think “creepy” in the good sense might be applied) and the way she allows the lines to define wonderful headdresses, clothes and sometimes even the texture of skin.
Ganga Devi’s work does the same…only she decorates the backgrounds, gives the figures a context and placement, and does more story telling. The connection came for me with my favorite, and the oddest of all of the Devi illustrations shown on Will Schofield’s A Journey Around My Skull>> her image, Naina-jogin (1988-89) (thanks to Will for posting to Flickr so as to be able to see the tons of detail). Look at Devi’s woman, how androgenous, so creepy as well. Same insane patterning and open space. And, in the Naina-jogin image, the figure is independent of context or location. She is the story.
So, now I have these two guardian angel artists, one on each shoulder, waiting for me to put the pen to moleskine (new book, new size, new opportunities which I think is key to shift out when stuck in the mire) and see what evolves. I know you all have not be on the edge of your chairs over this one, but just saying…
But it feels like a journey is about to begin. I am packing my bags, finding my reference…beginning to think afresh. Who knows.
Wonderful Jason Koski is here taking pictures for 3x3’s article on me, my space, the work etc. He is nicely doing all the pretty work, but a portrait is in the mix, and I hope like blood drawing, it will be quick, and not too memorable. Ursula Roma wrote a wonderful piece(3x3 requests that an illustrator write the article and Ursula is an amazing writer and illustrator…so she was amazingly gracious to do this for me)…. So we are tying up all the loose ends to make this piece happen.
Jason prompts me to get ahold of our friend Chris to see what we can do to move the 10x10 project (a music project with local musicans). Need to send a FB message.
There are phone calls today. Projects to do. The upstairs studio is progressing with the new bathroom and newly configured smaller room getting “mud and tape” today. Mandy is delivering a huge load of thises and thats to the dump…