Dead Children

January 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I don’t make posts because things are going well and I tend to use this blog as a venting place for negative emotions more than anything else. Sometimes I don’t make posts because I don’t know how to verbalize what I’m feeling or thinking in a clear, cohesive way. The past month has been very emotional in a way that has left me somewhat speechless, searching for words that can begin to address the events that have rocked me. I personally have had no harm done to me, but my heart has been broken repeatedly by the atrocities committed against women and children recently. Even as I type now, I can feel my emotions growing and can feel a reaction of “Nope. I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to go there.” building up inside. Fuck that. We’re going there. Starting with dead children.

I made a new piece a few weeks ago that I’m really happy with. I don’t know how it is for other people, but when I make a piece of art that turns out well, I feel this incredible sense of relief or emotional release. I felt damn near ecstatic the days following the completion of the piece (it took less than a day to make), but that’s worn off now and I’m thinking about making another one.

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I actually documented it in various stages so I could plan for the next one. Encaustics, at least the way that I do them, are somewhat unpredictable so it’s good to document each stage of the process so that if it ends up not looking how you wanted it to, you can trace your steps to find out where it went wrong. That’s the theory, anyway.

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Drawing 1 with about 4 coats of wax.

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Drawing 2 with one coat of wax fused to board with Drawing 1 and layers of wax.

I didn’t document every stage, obviously, but I find this helpful nonetheless. My art doesn’t sell and most people seem more creeped out by it than anything. I feel a little weird giving it away as gifts to people as well, because it feels like I’m saying “Here! Have a dead child.”

That’s not how I see it though. My children aren’t exactly dead, I’m just reminding the viewer that they will die, or that they can die. I always found poetic the saying “We’re all dying from the day we’re born” because it’s true and because I think that’s beautiful. As an atheist, life is incredibly precious and vibrant because it is so temporary and fleeting. There is nothing after this. There is no afterlife, no alternative existence. And that’s okay. That’s why I focus so much on these fleeting moments within an overarching theme of mortality. There is beauty in the tragedy of life.

I think people respond more positively to children as well. Their stories are shorter and their characters are more pure. If I did images of skeletal adults, I worry that people would form narratives about them that would lead to a reason for them dying, like they deserved it or brought it upon themselves. Children aren’t like that. They die by accident. They don’t deserve to die like some adults do. Their deaths are always tragic. I can manipulate the viewer’s emotions more easily and direct them more clearly towards a response to the tragedy of the image. We are always dying. We even die young. Every day is precious. Every moment is already slipping away. These things are important to me to remember, important to me to express.

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