Art isn't precious. Fringing the edges of owl feathers, I ruthlessly incise and scrape at the paint with the attitude of this short earred owl rendered in reverse on a glass panel. It's a tiny fierce energy I recognize in other parts of my life. I circle noiselessly for a time, but once the target shows itself, swoop down, all knotty knuckles and tearing talons. I've eaten neurobehavioral and developmental books whole, in big gulps, remembering pages and citations in the same frozen detail of a digested carcass. Friends and colleagues email to ponder various cognitive, emotional and behavioral or developmental questions, asking me to exume these informational owl pellets from time to time. My mental archive of desicated cases reminds me of CSI Grissom's shelves of samples, without the jars.
I am rivetted by birds and their ways. I imitate their tool use (yes, tools) and habits unknowingly as I fuss with my own tools, razor blades, dental scrapers, paint and interference powders, deciding how to interpret seamless contours and defined articulation of feathers, beaks, birdfeet.
I realize I unknowingly married a bowerbird.
Sculpting as they do, he strewed my path with bright objects and led me to our home in the sticks, where we make and do.
Why birds? I am unexpectedly captivated by things of the air, being a creature whose motion has lost its grace and swiftness. Their alertness is the irrestible draw. Who could imagine? A bowerbird man brought a sawhet owl woman into the bower, where we faithfully serve our three masters, the cats. Here's one of the masters now, in the repose of his own bower. Today I have no questions. I indulge, revelling in the secret symbolism of birds which pull apart the mice of the mind, leaving a soft trail of feathers as evidence of incising carnage. There comes a time when the past goes where it lives. When the mice are finished. The meal complete. The present its own purpose. I study the Master. Life is good.
Art is the language of my family. I finished up in my studio today and was joined by my oldest daughter and her crew. My daughter and I cooked while her husband and my grandson painted using the ancient paintbox of gouache colors I purchased back in my student days in Salzburg. Did I mention it's ancient? My daughter saw it and told six year old Kaiden, "Oh! That paintbox has been with Oma longer than I've been alive, Kai. I remember it from when I was little!" He was already settling in, at home with art materials all around him. The tradition continues.
This is how it works: give most people genuine art materials when they are young and they'll speak art throughout life, in one form or another. We paint, eat, live a handmade life, and set our own pace. Art is engrossing without being overstimulating. Our bodies love this. Art really IS our air. My question is how will people know this relief, this pace, unless they take several steps back from the virtual world? What is the value of art beyond the objects? How does creating it play a role in your relationship with the environment?