June 22, 2013

Burning Bridges to the Past

I looked through my collection of drawings to find one more unbalanced composition to which I could add my last dancer. I found one that was lopsidedly ideal, calling out for a tall form to balance the blank space at the right. The drawing was a study I had made of an entryway to an alcove made luminous by stained glass windows. I hadn’t bothered to center the alcove entrance so it appeared to be sliding off to the left. My last figure addition - a repeat tracing of the dancer adjusting her skirt - anchored everything into a balanced whole.

This brought my series of drawings using my sketches of Degas’ statuettes to a close. At this juncture I decided to dispose of my dancer cut outs, lest I be tempted to keep using them and not
move on. But somehow the thought of just tossing the cut outs into the garbage to mingle with used tissues, chicken skins and kitchen sink refuse seemed too undignified an end. So instead of the kitchen garbage pail, I decided to give my cut outs a ritual burning in my pit firing kiln. Before burning the paper dolls, I colored them with pastels to add to the color effects of the flames, should there be any.

The burning went as planned, although it wasn’t as clean as I had anticipated, and there was an unsettled feeling that I was perhaps doing something naughty - like mean girls playing “Salem Witch Trials” with their paper dolls. Nevertheless, I documented the event like a performance art piece, despite the fact that their was no audience. And who knows? The images may turn once more into paintings.

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