Monday, November 14, 2011

Mini 16

I was feeling pretty exhausted last week (art, job, school, family, friends). I’m not complaining – all things I am happy to have in my life, but I feel last week’s commentary was a little ho-hum. Fortunately, this project is all about moving forward, so I’ll endeavor to be a little more thorough this week…

As I mentioned with mini 9, my art history thesis focused on the iconography of winged figures. This interest acts like a feedback loop for me – I was curious enough about winged figures to want to spend hours in the library reading about them. Then, the more time I spent studying them, the more interested I became and the more often they crop up in my artwork, leading me to more study and greater interest… so ultimately, I don’t think it would be wrong to say that I’m a little bit obsessed.

Now, I always think of them as “winged figures,” but I know most people look at them and jump straight to “angel.” In that case, the iconography may read as fairly straightforward and even trite (gasp – forbid! - though I would point out, that far more people believe in angels than believe in God, an interesting statistic in and of itself.) For these individuals, the best I can hope for is that my technique may still act like a hook , and that the work may still merit a second glance because there’s something inherently satisfying about something so small and exact (though that may just be me with my love of the tiny and technical.)

While I know that the iconography may not be all that interesting to everyone, I would argue that winged figures are actually relevant and exemplary of post-modernism in that they are hybrids (shout out to all the James Patterson fans out there). Not only are they physically human-avian hybrids which therefore symbolically relate to both the human and the bird with its connotations of the soul and freedom, but they inhabit the liminal spaces between – between male and female, heaven and earth, human and divine. I also like to depict my figure as blindfolded further playing on a dichotomy between sight and knowledge (nerd tidbit – the words have the same root verb in ancient Greek ) The figure can’t see, so may therefore be more able to know (or not?) So, I think they can be pretty interesting still and that there is a reason that the winged figure continues to act as an archetype for that which is between in many cultures.

On a technical level, this piece is the first mini on which I’ve used oil paint (in the black to get a very deep black in the background.) I love, love oil paint, but I also love, love layering, and I essentially had to choose one or the other for this project due to the time constraints. This piece represents a compromise in that the piece is multi-layered (maybe 20+ layers, though I don’t count), but it has oil in the top layer to allow for sufficient drying time. Of course, after saying with mini 6 that I need a break from panels, I find myself mostly working on panel. However, the wood for this mini and mini 14 is scrap and therefore free… hmmmm.

Miniature #16 - November 7 - 13, 2011, 1.5 x 2.25 in, mixed media on wood