August 10, 2013 by smithartonline
Trickster Reflects Upon the Life of the Artist, 2013
Mixed media constructed box
9.25 X 12 X 2.75 inches
Trickster Reflects on the Life of the Artist is the result of reviewing life milestones – which makes this piece a rare indulgence into a quasi-autobiographical work. My life seems to be divided into chapters penned by the trickster. The chapters appear to run in twenty-year episodes. This particular work is focused upon a chapter of massive changes and summarized by the Latin graffito above the opening that says: igne levatus hyems. I adopted the saying as a personal motto for a number of years. (I found this quote from Ovid by chance in V. Pritchard’s book English Medieval Graffiti, it translates as “Winter is alleviated by fire.”)
The work has two distinct parts. The exterior presents the trickster (in Japan known as a kitsune fox, in First Nation folklore as coyote) standing solidly viewing the second area, a window or reliquary. The window area is filled with various symbols directly related to the year of change.
As always in my work, there is an interest in presenting the passage of time. This is done through the paint application, colors layering over other colors, symbols layering over other symbols, attached symbols directly related to time marking. Hermetic symbols cover the picture as design elements, many borrowed from various world cultures, and some are personal symbols.
The work, while being extremely personally meaningful to me, is meant to allow a unique interaction for each viewer. Like meeting a new person, the longer one commits to the relationship, the richer the experience for both participants.
Naomi Hirahara is a writer whose work ranges from biography to mystery. Her Mas Arai series is a great read. I generally lean towards history and biography, but Hirahara’s Mas Arai series is a welcome change from my usual reads. At a book signing, she spoke about the process involved creating her Mas Arai books. She begins writing without knowing what the outcome will be. In fact, she often does not know who the culprit is until well into the book’s creation…I am mystified, but how can one argue with success? The system certainly works for her.
This painting began in much the same way. The title of the show is “Reflection” and I had no real firm idea of what I would do, so I just made a leap of faith and hoped something would develop. I suspect I may need some general idea of where the work is going—I fidget around too much without this direction. As a result, this little piece required a significantly larger amount of time – – like almost a month in lieu of two weeks, which is the usual amount of time I need to complete similar works.