September 28, 2014

Woman Dancing With The Cosmic Slinky

The next drawing in my series of revisions of the sketches from my travel notebooks was completed yesterday. In case you’ve just tuned in to this blog series, I was once a traveling artist/educator. For decades my husband and I toured Asia, Europe and America. In the early years this was facilitated by working at various overseas institutes, traveling on weekends and vacations. On all these soujourns I kept illustrated journals.

Three years ago, when I became disabled, travel became out of the question. It still is problematic but I do get around on short jaunts. In my homebound time, which has most of the time, I turned to my travel journals, taking tours in memory and imagination. In my review, I discovered numerous sketches that could be reconfigured into complete drawings. For three years I have been slowly completing them, redoing some completely, merely restoring others.

The drawing at left was completed from a sketch I made of an eighteenth century French sculpture of a woman dancing wildly while swing large cymbals. Her purpose and meaning now elude me. This sketch evoked two memories; one of Hurricane Katrina, the other of a childhood toy.

I had used the original sketch as the basis for a painting on wood of this exotic creature. I painted her in red. The painting was collected by a patron in New Orleans and it was subsequently swept away by Hurricane Katrina. It is now in the permanent collection of the Gulf of Mexico.

When I made this sketch into a drawing I came up with the idea of expanding the cymbals into a series of circles and arcs. I had in mind a time lapsed movement, or perhaps the changes phases of two moons. The end result reminded me more of a childhood toy - the metal slinky.

Slinky was a simple toy made froma series of metal coils that could be trained to walk down a flight of stairs by flipping over itself. The metal coils made a beautiful cascading whir as the toy walked down the stairs ( A later, cheaper plastic version of slinky was manufactured without the characteristic sound which seemed to miss the point entirely).

Negligent children that we were, we invariably left slinky on the stairway to inevitably be tripper over by a hapless family member - usually my dad. His response was generally something like, "Who left that %$@($** slinky on the stairs!"

All of us kids being members of the silent conspiracy of the childhood mafia, the miscreant was never divulged. But we were always disheartened by the miss hap as it meant the death of slinky...its once pristine coils now mangled by the feet that tripped over it. Oh, we would try to resuscitate slinky by trying to hammer the bent coils flat again one by one but it left crooked gaps all the same and slinky would hobble down the stairs like a wounded warrior, ending in an abject heap at the base of the stairs. Eventually another slinky would take its place.

The drawing is of a woman, perhaps an allegorical self portrait, dancing with a cosmic slinky conjured up from the distant past.

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