Bleeding Heart came to me in a dream the night after visiting the Virginia Zoo. I had taken my mom there for her birthday, and felt the usual mix of excitement at seeing animals, and depression at seeing them in cages. One of the saddest animals on my visit was the Luzon Bleeding-Heart, or Bleeding Heart Dove. It is so sad to see something that can fly stuck in a tiny cage, seemingly without another bird to “do time” with. Luzon are unique because they look like they have been shot in the chest, thus the bleeding heart name. They mate for life and the males defend their mate and territory aggressively. But the bird I saw just looked sad and lonely.
As I was working on Shiny Things I thought all the tiny things I had saved throughout the years. All kinds of broken jewelry, thrift store items, things I found on the ground some of which has been with me since I was a teenager. Like a Magpie, I am always looking for things to use in my work. The mirror in this piece is something I bought 15 years ago, now finally finding a place for it.
The mirror is meaningful in this piece. Mirrors are shiny things. A Magpie can recognize him/herself in a mirror, signifying that they are intelligent creatures. I am pretty sure my cat, Loki, can recognize himself, but sometimes behaves in ways that make me question his intelligence, and I use the mirror as a question in this piece. Do we recognize ourselves and our underlying motivations and drives truthfully.
I have a relative that likes to acquire things for the sake of acquiring them. Obviously a hoarder, this person is constantly ordering things online that he cannot use, because he is physically unable due to multiple physical and medical conditions. He says he hopes to someday use these things, though I question if he could find them should the possible day of usage come. Despite the friction it causes with his wife, he spends at least $5,000 each month on stuff. This stuff either ends up in piles around the lazy boy chair he spends most of his time in, or packed into his otherwise stuffed garage. Somehow he believes that getting all this stuff will fill the hole inside him and a future awaits where he will be able to use the thousands of screws, pounds of wood, tons of bullets, or power tools. Or read that stack of 20 books beside him. Or watch the other 25 educational DVD on his other side. Or look through the stack of papers regarding last years taxes collaging his surroundings. The acquisition is a rush, and he claims the stuff makes him feel comfortable and safe.
Magpies also like to aquire shiny things to line their nests with, similar to the way my relative makes his own nest of things around his chair. Both nests give a sense of comfort and safety, though one is only a illusion. Unlike the relative’s nest, the Magpies nest has a useful purpose and will be home for new life. My relative nest contributes to his falls, and seems more like a slow smothering until his eventual demise.
I finished sculpting now ready for some paint. As I worked I was not feeling the Thunderbird vibe. This creature seemed like she was trying to escape something, not create a storm. I came across the Alkonost and this felt right. According to Russian mythology and folklore, the Alkonost was a creature with the body of a bird and the head of a beautiful woman. The Alkonost was said to sing so beautifully that those that hear her will forget everything and want nothing more ever.
My Alkonost’s narrative is that she was a prisoner because of her beautiful song. She escapes after many years. While in captivity she develops loathing for the song that caged her, so she never sang again. Instead she grew, transformed by her experience, into something else.
I decided to make another bird creature because I wanted to challenge myself to get the work to be closer to my sketch. Just for some interest I reversed the sketch. I did this so when I hang this with From Ashes, it will be going in a different direction. I am working a bit smaller this time, still using a wire armature with artificial floral branches. At this point, I am thinking Thunderbird, but that may change as it progresses.