Until the age of thirty four, I was convinced that, as a child, I had experienced waving my arms and taking flight. Of course this wasn't logical, but I could so strongly feel this memory in my body that logic didn't matter. When forgotten memories became conscious, I realized the truth. It was my mind, soul and spirit that had taken flight leaving a traumatic physical scene. This is called survival.
This painting was originally conceived after a gallery invitation to participate in a show titled Southern Discomfort: The Art of Dixie. Having grown up in Memphis for several years, the first image that came to mind was "Queen of the Cotton Carnival". I sat on the bluffs of the Mississippi river a few times watching this pathetic display of a wealthy young white woman and a wealthy much older white man crowned King and Queen and walking off the royal barge. What could be more discomforting to the South than a “whites only” carnival celebrating an economy built on the backs of slaves?
The World’s Tallest Woman
A mini story by Lisa Bartell
Roxanne was a freak of nature. Too tall to live in a house. Too tall to live outdoors. So what does a freak do? They join the circus of course.
Roxanne eventually became weary of people gawking at her, only defining her as "The World's Tallest Woman."
So what did Roxanne do? She decided to become even taller. She grew to such heights that her head lived among the stars, the moon and the sun. From this magnificent distance, Roxanne was learning a valuable lesson. She realized that everyone has times of feeling like a freak posturing for the world. She looked down and gazed upon that nebulous piece of land where people floated between uncertainty and sudden yet fleeting flashes of self awareness and non-judgment. Roxanne now knew there was no such thing as the normal person she wished to be. She became so filled with happiness that she had to share her knowledge with the world. So Roxanne called down to the tiny humans:
"Love who you are." Love who you are."
"Love all who come your way." Love all who come your way."
As each ear heard these words of wisdom, something strange began to happen. People looked deep within themselves and each other and learned the meaning of LOVE. Roxanne wrapped a cloak filled with the stars, the moon and the sun around her body and gently glided down to live among all the people of the Earth.
©Lisa Bartell, 2014
When I was growing up, I always found a quiet place where no one could find me. This was often the top of a tree, but my favorite hidden spot was under a Weeping Willow tree next to a small stream. I would sit there for an hour or more asking myself questions about what I believed in.
Every child discovers a hidden space of their own where they can leave behind the day and the night of life. In this place they hold onto their soul.
The Mask Makers, Hillsborough Arts Council, 102 N. Churton St. Hillsborough, NC
August 25th - September 23rd.
FAR OUT! The Art of Rock 'n' Roll, Gallery C, 504 N. Blount St., Raleigh, NC
Exhibit runs until Sept. 20th
I tried so many times to write about this painting, but nothing sounded right. I wasn’t comfortable enough to be honest about my reasons for creating this work. Butterfly Lessons is a personal story I don’t need to share. I’d rather the viewer experience their own story. I will simply say that this work was a lesson in acceptance.
“I can only soar when hearing the music and dance. Otherwise, life is a blur to keep intact.”
I'm 99.9 % sure I wrote this.
The Queen of Catland is the first painting in the Mask Makers series. I didn’t have any preliminary sketches for this work, only the concept of using animal heads as symbols of identity. With this as my intention, it became easy to discover the imagery of the painting. After loosely brushing black and white paint across the canvas, I stepped back and began seeing very basic outlines of the figures, the house and the bird.
The focal point is a child who transforms herself and her life after the head of a cat replaces her former outward identity. In her imagination she now has the ability to freely roam and discover who she is in the magical world of Catland. Placing the crown upon her head, she becomes a cat of royalty having the power to nurture her identity.