Creating amidst crises can either be cathartic or impossible. My crises actually started before the current novel coronavirus. In early February, my husband was suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor, and within a week he had surgery to have it removed. Rare, but benign, I guess you could say we won the brain tumor lottery. Could I create anything during a month of worry and caregiving. Not at all.
Getting your creative groove back is something I have spent some time considering. Read some suggestions here. A month after his surgery, I spent time looking at old work in my flat files, and came across a multiple block woodcut I created while a student at Indiana University in 2009. Our prompt was another worrying pandemic — the novel H1N1 virus, nicknamed Bird Flu.
I wondered if I could use this woodcut in one of my current collages. I have only one print using these colors, and one using more primary colors. I decided to include it in a matrix used for map projections.
The image itself is an adaptation of Arthur Rackham’s illustration in Grimm’s Fairy Tales The Goose Girl. She is wearing a face mask, and looking over the globe while she combs her hair. Like many folk tales, the true meaning may be unclear to modern day readers. The relevant passage is where the heroine of the story has been demoted from potential princess to a herder of geese. While out watching her geese, she seemingly controls the wind by saying:
“Blow, blow, little breeze,
And Conrad’s hat seize.
Let him join in the chase
While away it is whirled,
Till my tresses are curled,
And I rest in my place.”
Including the woodcut necessitated cutting it up and integrating it into the matrix. I succeeded in keeping my cats from disturbing the surface, and glued each square down. I decided to keep a quarter-inch white border around the image, and to choose collage elements that helped tie the work to the overall collage.
This collage is made from maps from every continent except Australia. One of the maps is in Arabic. As a sort of bubble, the Goose Girl now seems to float around. No one is exempt from her presence. It is only a matter of time.
This collage helped me get started creatively again. My husband is doing well. Like everyone, I have people who are at great danger from the current novel coronavirus. To do my part, I’ll be by myself in the studio.
Wishing everyone peace of mind and health of body.