Portraits of Imaginary Friends and Other Impulses

I am not a very pious girl. I have my beliefs sure, but I don’t preach, I am not into ritual and I don’t much talk about religion except in a very intellectual way. 

When it comes to some of my artwork it makes it hard for me to deny a sort of higher spirit or intellect even in the way I think about my art. This is especially true when painting my silhouettes. I often feel I just need to “get out of the way” and “let the art happen” and “become the vessel” for the “art to come through”.  I usually sit down in front of a painting with zero idea what it will be with the abstract silhouettes and hours, some days a day, days, weeks later, there is a painting there. Often I will lose many hours in my studio with no idea where the time went. When I am lucky I will also go into my studio in great pain and emerge many hours later with a good painting and no pain and very little memory of the day at all. But it’s more than lost time with magical paintings appearing. 

So often I have painting something, and I will say “oh that’s sort of pretty” and take it with me to a show, but someone at the show will stop suddenly and stare at a painting, telling me they are certain, I have painting their story.  The first few times I thought, well this is great, it’s what art should do. Then it happened 6 times, 10 times, 23…  “that is my dad…he just passed he would stand just like this…” “this is a story I never told anyone” “this was my night last night” “this is me, always alone” and so often tears. Sometimes the paintings would go home with the person. Sometimes they didn’t. I soon realized I didn’t care. Touching someone that much was more important than the sale. Maybe I am somehow tapping into something, someone painting out some message from the universe meant for someone to receive. Maybe I am only a messenger. Maybe it’s not me at all, or anything spiritual, but the stick figures themselves. We all relate to them,  they were everyone’s self portraits. They are each of us, they transcend race and class and even gender stereotypes. That doesn’t keep the act of painting them from being a sort of prayer for me. 

They are messengers of hope, of love and connection and understanding. For me there isn’t much more spiritual than that. 

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