Mutable Histories

Wise people have often told me that happiness means living in the here and now. But my impulse to agree always harbours some uneasiness. Part of me wonders what adopting this emphasis on today really means. I do see that continually sacrificing the present for an unknowable future gives rise to self-defeat. I also realize that if we fail to accept the irreversibility of time—that sorrowful events of the past can never be undone and yesterday’s joys never truly relived —we may remain blind to new possibilities.

On the other hand, the influences of our past and expectations for the future shape who we are now; they condition our words and our thoughts, our impulses and responses in every moment. Seizing those moments, then, seems partly to be about taking control of our relationship with our past rather than striving for the impossibility of leaving it behind. The kind of consciousness that renders happiness—the consciousness that focuses on the here and now—must, it seems, betray itself just a little. It must open itself to the immediacy of a past that’s gone, allow its traces on our memory and psyche to surface, become observable in our present life.

The effects of this remarkable layering of time, where the past radiates through the present that overlays it, show up in many of the works in this issue of Room of One’s Own. The here and now of the characters who live in these pages bears a certain translucency, emitting but also reworking the stories the characters tell themselves about their pasts.

COVER ARTIST’S STATEMENT

Authentic art bridges isolation when people connect emotionally to the work.

I paint about the tantalizing fact that we have only intimations of, but will never completely know, the nature of reality. About loss, fragility, old age, and mortality. And about compassion and love offering redemption. I am interested in how the size of a figure and its placement in space produce different psychological resonances; also in the way people group themselves when facing life. My work does not refer to literal history, or place the figures in any particular setting; I instead paint the interior world. Figures are often androgynous, not of a particular person, but about what confronts us as humans. I use drafting film because it provides an ephemeral quality, and I use oil paint as I love the materiality of the medium. I try to capture bewilderment, when structure and order break down, everything looks unfamiliar, and we are sure of nothing.

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