Monday, October 02, 2006

Our Memories Always Follow Us

Whatever we do,
Wherever we go,

Our memories
Always follow us.

There’s just no place to leave them.

This is a poem that I wrote about 30 years ago. I knew that my memories accumulated and became part of who I am. Even if I don’t remember them, they stay silently in the background adding to who I am as a person. This, of course, influences who I am as an artist and how I express myself.



In my artist statement I wrote, “For quite a long time I used to believe that the essence of my work could be distilled down to one word, strength. Strong color, shape, composition, light and so on. That slowly I was eliminating all of the unnecessary elements. I was trimming it down to bare and simple forms. The paintings were sleek and trim and could hold their own.” Strength was important to me. It was how I protected myself. It was how I kept others at a safe distance so that I could not be hurt. It was how I survived.

I have a disability, OCD, but I also have a second disability, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD). I am not a war veteran. I have PTSD because I was abused as a child and that forever colors the way that I see my world. Being an artist became my refuge and then later my identity. It also became the way that I protected myself and held my demons at bay. Regretfully, it also kept other people at bay. All of my experiences shape my life and they also shape my art so it was only natural that my paintings started to reflect the need for strength. I wanted something simple yet I wanted it to be richly complex without it appearing to be that way. I wanted to create subtle contradictions in the paintings to see if others could break through the code that I was covertly sending in a very overt format.



I am not so sure if this was an attempt to reach out to others and to reveal myself or if it more like the story of the Wizard of Oz? Am I merely the wizard hiding behind the curtain? It is attributed to Pablo Picasso that every work an artist makes is a self-portrait. I really do believe that in every work that I make I am revealing bits and pieces of myself. Subtle clues left along the path of my life. More importantly, my work reflects back to me who I am or what I have become. Both as an artist and a person I need to look closely at these images and decide if I really like what I see. Is this who or what I really want to be or is there something different, something better? It is too easy to get used to the safety and comfort of being stuck in the ruts of my own making.

The last few months I have spent more time meditating and reflecting on my life. I have been looking at my paintings with a much more critical eye to see what I like and dislike. As I look at my art and my life I have discovered what I don’t like about myself and begin work to make changes. There is much uncertainty, which makes me nervous, but at the same time there is a wonderful excitement. I have become too complacent with how I make my art and now change is in the air. My paintings show me that it is time to push on to a new level, to a new way of seeing and expression. It’s going to be fun!

The quartet of paintings above are all part of an ongoing variation on a theme series. They all measure 10” X 12” and are oil pastel on paper.

10 Comments:

Blogger Pat's Place said...

This is an interesting thread... and I can agree with nearly everything you have shared (except the particular resulting illnesses/conditions - I have my own set!). Today I was reflecting on the need to "move on" rather than to look backward into the past as though somehow it can be changed or integrated or 'healed.' The past is simply that - the past. Yes, it is held in our memories, for good or for ill. It is held in our cellular memories, as well. Sometimes I find that using CraPas on a huge tablet with my non-dominant hand and my eyes closed releases pent up emotions associated with old, unpleasant (and worse) memories. The physical act of mark-making from an emotional base seems to help move it outside my body allowing me to let go and move on.

My art definitely reflects my current state of being, whether or not I want it to. I used to try to paint perfect pretty pictures - but when I look back on them (20 years of 'nice' watercolors), I see the pain, grief, sorrow, anger, etc. that was beneath each subject and each attempt at perfection...

In my fiber art, I find my color selections are deeply influenced by my mood and current events. This work is often multi-layered - both in meaning and substance/execution. My evolution as a person is definitely present in these pieces, although quite differently. I no longer aim for perfection - if anything, I lean towards unfinished edges, raw piecing, and a looseness that never was present in my watercolors. Now I aim for truth...whatever that means to me at the time. Learning how to be authentically ME has been a life-long struggle since I did most of my 'hiding' behind 'people-pleasing' behaviors. I was very good at figuring out what others might want or need...now I'm learning what I need and want. It's a whole different ball game!

So, I keep on keeping on this wonderful road to self-discovery by following what has heart and meaning to me in the NOW moment.

Thanks for sharing and opening the topic to the rest of us in blogland...

10:11 PM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Pat, well said, very well said indeed!

9:25 AM  
Blogger Lisa Call said...

Wow Ed, I swear we have the same artist statement - just worded differently. My work is all about fences and walls and more and more it is about the emotional and internal walls that keep other people at a safe distance.

Over the past year I've been working to break down those walls but they will never be completely gone. But hopefully there will eventually be more space to squeeze between the cracks.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Hey Ed -- have you ever read Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space?

I need to re-read it, memory doesn't hold it clear but it felt relevatory when I read it first.

http://www.amazon.com/
Poetics-Space-Gaston-Bachelard/
dp/0807064734

And I need to re-read your post and let it sift and settle before I can comment mo' bettah.

:-)

9:39 PM  
Blogger amber said...

Fascinating, I wonder just how much people can interpret about the artist while viewing the work
it certainly is a different kind of psychology
I love reading your blog
you always seem to ask the questions we all ant the answers to

10:44 PM  
Blogger Nancy Baker, aka Rebel Belle said...

Hi Ed,
We have a similar history.
It's interesting that you are trying to figure out what you don't like about yourself. I'm trying to figure out how to forgive myself for not being perfect enough. The usual response to childhood trauma is self-blame. I've been searching for the end of this pain for a long time and painting has always been the refuge of choice. I consider it an odd gift. Other people stop working because they might be frustrated, discouraged, tired, etc. I know that I will never stop working because my passion has nothing to do with a present time context. I have found an antidote to pain, and don't anybody fuck with my medication.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Hi Lisa, interesting isn't it? I always knew that there was a field called "Art Therapy" I just never fully realized that it is self administered.

Hey Lori, no I've never read that book. Time to go to the library and look it up.

Merci, Amber, your kind words mean a lot.

hey Belle, yeah the illegal drugs and booze just weren't cutting it and I get so tired of beating myself up for something I didn't do. Like you, frustration and disappointment don't stop me from my craft, art is too powerful of a drug for me to give it up. As for me, I'm trying to find the wounds, as old as they are, so I can work on healing them so that I can die a whole person.

3:15 PM  
Blogger AngelaFerreira said...

Your work is brilliant! All the best to you and your life. I hope you live many years of happiness with the ones who truly love you now...
If you have a chance please give me an opinion about painting the sides of the canvas in my blog.
Regards, I shall visit you again!

5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, I like very much your work.

10:21 PM  
Blogger The Epiphany Artist said...

You know I feel the same way as you do below! God Bless!
"The last few months I have spent more time meditating and reflecting on my life. I have been looking at my paintings with a much more critical eye to see what I like and dislike. As I look at my art and my life I have discovered what I don’t like about myself and begin work to make changes. There is much uncertainty, which makes me nervous, but at the same time there is a wonderful excitement. I have become too complacent with how I make my art and now change is in the air. My paintings show me that it is time to push on to a new level, to a new way of seeing and expression. It’s going to be fun!"

9:04 PM  

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