Narrative Themes

I have an idea to create a series of narratives based on themes, like the Seven Sorrows of Mary, or themed sequences, like the Stations of the Cross. Also to look closely at the gestures used in these paintings. I discovered a book called Gestures of Despair that examined shared gestures across medieval and renaissance art. Symbolic gestures were developed in part because, though few could read words they could easily read gestures. Gestures fascinate me. We forget how rich and utterly human they are.

I recently heard a woman who receives dialysis tell a story. One day, while in the hospital, alone in her room and in great pain, a nurse came in to check the machine–her brusque manner made plain she was very busy. She barely looked at the woman and didn’t speak, but on the way out, she stopped, turned around and went to the woman’s bedside. The woman’s voice broke as she described the nurse wordlessly, gently brushing the hair from her face, and for a moment cradling the woman’s cheek with her hand. I was in tears listening. An example of the power of gesture.

The Cross as Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is a vivid symbol in almost every culture. Trees are revered as life-giving, and signify renewal and regeneration. They are beneficent as well as wise. The crosses I’ve been painting and drawing are sprouting leaves, like Daphne the nymph who, in her desire to escape the amorous attentions of Apollo, asked to be turned into a tree. The rose cross was inspired by the Rosy Cross which is a symbol of the esoteric sect of Rosicrucians though I know little about them. I was more inspired by the phrase “rose cross” which made me think of adding flowers to the vegetation springing from these crosses. Some have female forms others do not. This is a rich and layered exploration of christian symbols, archetypes, and feminist art.