“All objects appear to the human eye simply as masses of colour of variable depth, texture, and outline.”It’s the human brain that gives them names, categories, degree and value. Two people view the same scene, and walk away with impressions so different you’d think they’d been in two very different places.
---- John Ruskin
I had to return to this line of thought when I considered entering the upcoming exhibit, Secret Palace, Secret Garden. I struggled with that poem because it is, in my opinion, surreal.
I have never been called a Pollyanna. Anyone who is always sunshine and peaches is extremely suspect, in my view. Every silver lining has a cloud attached. Denial of that is unhealthy. That’s not to say I have a dark view of existence – on the contrary, I think that to understand the concept of yin and yang, of balance, is a very healthy outlook.
So this poem, which I can only picture in pure whites and insubstantial lines, was not only a challenge to represent in a mosaic, but I found that I didn’t even want to. I had to look for an alternate avenue of expression.
I decided to approach the poem as a piece of literary fantasy. Something not intended to represent anything or anyplace real, or even desirable. Perhaps even an expression of mental illness. An exploration……a “what if?”
So here, then, is the artist statement I came up with for the piece:
If there were a garden,Would goodness only grow?Fragrant, faithful flowers so colorful and rich?A babbling brook singing merry songs so beautiful in pitch?
Dragonflies would buzzeth all about,Birds would invade the blossom trees,All of God’s creatures existing…Yes, t’would be all of these.
I have been what I call a “rabid gardener” for many years. I love digging in the dirt, watching the process of growth and decay, marking the passage of time with the circle of life. This poem, and in particular this stanza, feel like the fantasy of someone who does not garden. There is no value judgment in the garden. It is what it is. The life of all things depends on the death of others.
For this reason, I chose to design a composition that was fantastical and unrealistic. The silver and gold leaf represent the perpetual light and happiness that can exist nowhere except in art and in our minds. The dragonflies are portrayed in rainbow colors, symbolizing the fantasy of the pot of gold – the search for that magical something that will erase all our difficulties – and the recognizable forms of the dragonflies and reeds keep us tethered to the here and now.