As If for the First Time

As If for the First Time

Blue and Sentimental, mixed media collage, 2021

Meditations on art, nature, and femininity:  

I begin with the image of a naked woman, of a woman who is at once very much alive and long dead. She is me and not me. 

Every woman. Every woman in my collages—in the Nude Collection, in particular—is me and not me. I allow my intuition to choose which models I work with. There is a moment of “falling in love,” I call it. There must be. And it is always the face. The woman’s face must speak. Her body is secondary, but her eyes, her mouth, the emotion in her face must communicate with the deepest part of me. 

I love her. Yes. For a moment, I own the feminine. I hold it in the palm of my hand. She is me and not me.  

After the Glitter Fades, mixed media collage, 2021

At once, I set about destroying her. I learn to accept that old forms must die in order for me to see (to see her, to see me) as if for the first time. Ironically, it is most often the face that goes first. I cut off heads, rearrange features, replace them with plants, animals, objects. Kill what I love so that it may be reborn. So that a new woman may emerge and have life.

There was preserved in her the fresh miracle of surprise.

Jim Morrison

I tear a page from an old book, and it is no longer a page. I rip it to pieces, and those pieces become new forms, the beginnings of new life, of a new language for the inner woman to speak.  

I engage my senses. I work with my hands. I work without thinking. Without consulting the rational mind. I move as if to music only I can hear. I cut, tear, burn, and destroy so that I may live.

It is this way in nature. One of the reasons I love birdwatching so much: every time I see a bird, I feel as if I am seeing it for the first time. Whether it’s the first bird I see at the feeder in the morning, the 50th of the day, or the 100th of the week, I feel the same warm smile spread across my face, the same feeling of lightness, of surprise, of childlike excitement. Look! A chickadee! A woodpecker! A cardinal! Every bird. Every time. 

In every bird, as in every creature, is a miracle. In every image of woman I remake, the miracle is reborn. And I see as if for the first time. 

If You Ever Did Believe, mixed media collage, 2021

This is how it’s supposed to be. This is how we are supposed to see. With our wild eyes. Our innocent eyes. The eyes of the soul. This is the alchemy of nature. Like art, like poetry, nature gives us the gift of seeing our world as if for the first time.

…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?

Vincent Willem van Gogh

The inner predator/shadow/critic/destroyer loves monotony, stagnation. Loves what is comfortable, predictable, advantageous, what is safe. But these eyes, these innocent eyes, these animal eyes, these eyes through which I see as if for the first time, these eyes are mine. Yes. These eyes are mine.


Prints for all of the artwork in this post are available in my Etsy shop.

To view more artwork like this, visit the Nude Collection.

7 responses to “As If for the First Time”

  1. Thank you for sharing your process towards creation…I love that you “fall in love” with the woman’s face and then work towards setting her free and seeing her anew…I love your freedom…allowing wildness, innocence, miraculousness to flourish and be set free…to destroy and rebuild and rebirth something fresh that feeds our soul in a new way…what a wonderful way to create as an artist…the collages are all so beautiful and carry your message effortlessly…to see everything for the first time with fresh eyes and pure soul..and I agree with van Gogh “and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” You inspire me, my friend..

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    • I’m so happy you enjoyed this post! I thought of you as I was revising and hoped some of these sentiments would resonate. (I felt they would.😊) I think the impetus for this post, really, was the chapter in ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’ on the Skeleton Woman–the one who we often run from, especially at the beginning of love relationships (or when we accidentally “find treasure” in another and don’t know what to do with it), when it’s necessary to let the old die so that a new, transformative love can begin. That discussion, although it was about love, reminded me uncannily of art–specifically the art I’m making now–and why it feels so vitalizing and so necessary to love these images and the women in them (to “find treasure” in them), and then to destroy them quite literally, so that they (and I) can live. Thank you, as always, for the wonderful feedback, my friend! Our discussions, as well as your beautiful poetry, continue to inspire me, too.

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  2. […] What occurred to me was this: we must relearn to see innocence, to see goodness. To my mind, it’s impossible to become desensitized to violence, to cruelty, to the kinds of monstrosities, valuelessness, mundane ugliness that come along with being “worldly,” “socialized,” “civilized,” etc. without also becoming desensitized to goodness. It then occurred to me that maybe that’s what growing into oneself means, at least in part. Being able to see—really see—the good in others, the soul in them, which is also to experience the soul within ourselves. To dispel the monsters, the inner predators, or at the very least, be able to put them in their place. And you can’t do that if you can’t see them—if you’re still looking at the world through un-innocent eyes. I suppose that’s all, really. Nature, art, poetry are all sources, all help to undo the knots in our perception, destroy old forms, see our world as if for the first time. […]

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  3. […] Indeed, I cannot, no matter how hard I try, untether my killer instinct from my creative instinct. They are two sides of the same coin. This is a lesson I continue to learn through my collage practice, generally, and through my work with the female form, in particular, as discussed in As If for the First Time.  […]

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