Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, (and to those of you spread elsewhere in the world, I hope you all had a lovely weekend!) We were busy like most of you enjoying family, good food and going here and there. I managed to catch a nasty cold and spent all of Saturday sprawled on the couch, (kind of like the last illustration in my previous post, but wrapped in blankets and clutching a box of tissue.)
But by Sunday I was feeling a bit better and hubby and I took off by ourselves for a much needed date.
We headed off in the pouring rain to the Philadelphia Museum of Art eager to see the quilts of Gee's Bend. I have wanted to see these quilts since they first came into public awareness. Seeing them up close and in person was almost like a religious experience, and I actually had to choke back the tears at times as I was so overcome by their power.
After spending a good deal of time soaking in the quilts, and feeling as inspired as I will ever be, we headed to the next exhibit where we were introduced to the works of James Castle. I am shocked that I had not heard of him before, but I had not... I really need to get out more.
Once again, my mind was blown by the amazing work laid out before me.
Apparently James was born deaf and mute, and I would wager autistic. He went to school for the deaf, but either rejected or was unable to learn traditional forms of communication.
However, James became proficient in his own forms of visual communication, executing many drawings and showing a masterful understanding of one point prospective. The drawings are mostly done with a mixture of soot and spit, applied with a hand carved stick to any recycled paper or cardboard he had on hand.
James also created intricate cardboard replicas of objects, birds, people and totem shapes, bound together with string.
And his books! So many books! Oh my, they were fabulous and fascinating, made of all sorts of recycled materials and filled with his sketches, doodles, and symbols, often repeated over and over again, to form a most beautiful language. What a truly remarkable human being.
I have often heard other artists discuss how seeing a certain show changed the direction of their own work, but have never myself experienced anything so profound despite having seen many, many wonderful shows throughout my life. But these two particular shows were different. Both left me changed, and I know, (the way you just know some things) that viewing the quilted works done by the fine woman of Gee's Bend, and the work done by the utterly fascinating James Castle, will absolutely have an effect on my work.
I thank them all for the gifts that they have given us through their undying artistic exploration, ingenuity and creative spirit.