Thou Mayest (Choices)
16" x 20" found paper collage on board
Into The Depths and Up In Smoke
collage on board 8" x 11'
8" x 10"
I guess that I love a good cliché as maybe the titles and content of my pieces reveal. Or maybe I am drawn to age old stories or a kind of nostalgia surrounding outdated stereotypes. Whatever the case may be, I would argue that ideas themselves never go away even if the times change and new ways of thinking and acting come into vogue. There is a constancy to things, to history, and to people. We do study ancient cultures and past historical events just as much as we focus on modern day people and happenings. I think, for better or for worse, we can't get away from ourselves and our history.
I just finished reading East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Prior to, I had only read The Grapes of Wrath. Honestly, I thought his books were for boys or something when I was in high school and then as a younger adult I was turned off by Steinbeck's material and maybe even that he was a macho seeming kind of guy. It's a good thing that I found this book at the thrift shop a few months ago (just $2 can you believe that?) because this is a gem of a story. It's not really even the story so much, though it is good (it's a retelling of the Genesis fable) but the characters. I got about a chapter into the book when I realized that Steinbeck's absolute skill was in the character building. Wow! I became entranced with the whole thing and couldn't put the darn book down. The story is an epic and the characters memorable. I was particularly drawn to the Samuel Hamilton character; his interactions with the different characters, his thinking, his language, all of it. There is one scene in which he and two other characters are discussing man's ability, his option, to choose between good and evil. This is one of the main themes of the book and it hinges on, among other things, this discussion between the three men. It's a riveting scene.
I read the book as I was working on the above pieces (not at the same time, not simultaneously of course!) and was very influenced. I found myself searching for images and words and phrases that reflected my own ideas relating to the book: good and evil, original sin, men and women and the roles that they have been assigned throughout history, and history itself, specifically the very early 20th century and then the Dust Bowl years. I never thought I would be the type of artist who works with text and images. Maybe it's a new opportunity.
And speaking of new opportunities, I wanted to mention that I now have some items available for purchase in my Red Bubble shop. The shop is listed under my name, Elizabeth Fife, and the link can be found here. I tried to list items that could be worn (and then recycled) or that were paper based (and could be recycled/reused). There are also magnets, phone and tablet cases, and buttons available. I get that people have a lot of stuff, that they are sick of stuff. I am too. But, it doesn't hurt to have something fun in your life either. I ordered a shirt for myself as well as a "test" print mounted on matboard. There are only a few designs available for now. I selected the digital images for this idea since they provide the best clarity for reproduction I think. we will see where this goes. If you take a look let me know.
February is almost over and I hope to get on to some new work. The digital collage idea is very exciting for me though it is a little more time spent on the computer. I am using a very rudimentary program from Google called Picasa. It's doing the job for now. I almost like working within it's constraints. I see it as a challenge and an affirmation that art making doesn't need to be expensive or complex.
In any case, thanks for reading and looking. Please feel free to send me an email if you would like to comment or catch up: firstname.lastname@example.org.