A CONSPIRACY OF BEAUTY
In her 2021 novel Still Life, Sarah Winman describes “a conspiracy of beauty.” We currently are living in such a world of perfidy and darkness that I love the idea of a conspiracy of hope and light, however ephemeral. Perhaps it is this quest which drew me two years in a row to Hawaii. In the spring of 2022, I spent a month exploring Kauai and Maui and at an “informal art residency” in a tiny cottage on the island of Molokai. In 2023 I explored the Big Island with its dramatic lava fields and verdant tropical forests.
I began making images of flowers, what nature writer Barry Lopez once referred to as our partners in the divine. But first I had to overcome my fear of being labeled a “lady flower artist,” dismissed as either trivial or too sensual. Even the brilliant Georgia O’Keefe had to battle this after her time in Hawaii in 1939, sketching and painting what she herself called “the voluptuous plants.”
I was also fascinated by landscapes unlike any I had ever seen - red dirt waterfalls, black sand beaches, folding cliffs, stark lava - the otherworldly natural world. I found myself able to be solely in the present for a while, accepting both the light and the darkness.
Once home, I began experimenting with ways to convey what I had experienced in Hawaii, to find the art forms that would best express my “conspiracy of beauty.” I made luxuriant color and stark black-and-white photographs, and printed long pieces of fabric to sew and bead upon. I made solarplate prints from my photographs, and collaged and embroidered on them. In the fabric pieces, I was searching for tactile materiality and fragility, drawing with thread.
The quest continues, to "wash my spirit clean," as John Muir once wrote.....