June 25, 2008

La Mente Malevola

It was Spanish week in Orangeburg. Spanish camp with guest artists was in full swing. My small contribution to the festivities was the loan of some my Pre-Columbian inspired mosaic masks to an exhibition where they were joined by a real collection of Pre-Columbian art loaned by one of the Spanish professors.

The best part for me about this annual summer event was the gathering of artists, teachers and guest dancers at the home of Ellen Zisholtz, curator of the I.P. Stanback Museum at South Carolina State University. I had the good fortune of sitting next to Anabella Gonzales, the guest dancer. Although we were both artists we soon discovered that we were polar opposites in our likes and dislikes, although we were similar in temperament. I loved to cook, she loathed it. My favorite European country was the one that she could not bear...Italy. It was the unprovoked attentions of men, there, that bothered her. I recalled that while walking the streets of Rome unaccompanied the only people who sought my attention were two nuns asking for directions (No matter where I am on the globe people ask me for directions. This is no small feat for someone who gets lost easily. Perhaps I look confident about that). Our differences aside, however, I found her a charming person and very worldly.

The conversation with the Spanish professor on my left was even more lively. He regaled us with tales of life, love and religion. These were such intensely emotional subjects for the group however, that most of them had to be expressed in the Native Tongue. Being a non-Spanish speaker sandwiched between Spanish speakers was awkward at times but every now and then, a phrase would float by that sounded so beguiling I would insist on a translation. While discussing systems of belief, one particularly animated Spanish professor maintained that he did not believe in God, but instead believed in something he called La Mente Malevola - the Malicious Mind. The goal of La Mente Malevola was to play cruel jokes on men for the duration of their lives then finish them off for good once his sadistic pleasure was satiated. “Like a cat plays with the mouse before killing it.” Professor R. said, batting his hand back and forth for emphasis.

The notion of a La Mente Malevola stuck with me for the duration of the week. Although I realized that this expression of a belief in a supernatural force of wickedness was to an extent a tongue-in-cheek, there seemed to be a certain degree of justification for this oddly pessimistic outlook. Anyone with more than one mishap, health problem, or financial downturn may feel that if there is a God, he is definitely not on their side. But how could someone really believe in a wicked force at work in the universe taking the time to torment select individuals? It seemed almost as irrational as believing in guardian angels. Silliness at either pole.

Then I got an unrelenting three-day migraine. It was nearly incapacitating at first, then it mellowed somewhat but hung on in a series of headache aftershocks. It wasn’t enough to put me to bed and excuse myself from working, The lingering nausea and head tenderness just made going about the day unpleasant. Bright lights became eye stabbers and noises were magnified and had the odd effect of being translated from sound to pain. The satisfied eyes of La Mente Malevola glared down upon me from the cosmos and his sadistic grimace was palpable. The only way to exorcise this demon, I figured, was to paint him onto a page then tear him up. So I painted him with acrylics on sized paper. The painting was gaudy and ugly but perhaps apropos for a demon. I cut him into several pieces after he dried and returned to him after my migraine finally lifted. I then returned to my studio without the burdonsome brain cramps that most assuredly La Mente Malevola had sent down to me and glued his parts on to a larger piece of red paper then added more fragments of textured papers to make a collage. I reserved a small rectangular area in the collage for a small painting. I cut small human forms out of black and brown paper and stuck them into the wet paint - hapless beings they were - at the mercy of a ferocious feline desiring to play with them a while before the final kill. Terrible Mente Malevola.

1 comment:

harriett said...

¡Fant├ístico, Janet! Sus palabras son maravillosas y su arte que inspira y hermoso, como siempre.