No More May Gulls Cry At Their Ears


Before I get into the meat of this entry:

  • I have moved to heathersara.com, which is awesome! You can update your bookmarks to reflect that, or keep visiting me at blogspot. Expect a re-design shortly, I've got something in mind!
  • I want to throw it out there that I've been noticing lots of traffic from Europe lately-- Croatia, Russia, Poland and Italy in particular! I'd love to hear what you guys think of my blog and what you guys are doing with your dancing right now!
  • I have a big long thing to write about the katharsis show and the Audra weekend in Montreal but I haven't finished it yet.

For now I want to tell you guys about a realization I had recently, quite suddenly and for no apparent reason.

I was remembering a field trip from when I was a kid. My grade five class went to the Arts and Culture Centre Art Gallery. We were primarily there to see work by Newfoundland artists. A lot of this type of work can be very literal-- dories and docks and cliffs. More specifically, a great deal of twentieth century Newfoundland art deals with resettlement (abridged history lesson: government made people leave outport communities in favour of larger towns; Newfoundlanders miss outports). Some of it is sad, some of it is mixed. A lot of it, again, is literal.

I promise I am going somewhere with this.

My class made its way through the gallery, and I looked at all the work. Some of it was pleasant, some of it was sad. I didn't understand some of the more abstract work at all. Then I saw one painting in particular. I remember it was very big to me and I couldn't see it all at once so I took a few steps back and I think I stood there looking at it for at least five or ten minutes. It was called "No More May Gulls Cry at Their Ears" and it was painted by Gerald Squires (it's thumbnailed at the top of this post!)

Some of the kids found it a bit scary, so the gallery curator took the time to explain that it dealt with the raw feeling of loss some Newfoundlanders felt as a result of resettlement, as well as a mix of the artist's own feelings and experiences at the time he painted it. She managed to convey all of this very simply in a way we could understand. She explained what some of the symbols could be taken to mean, and that it was ok to be afraid of it because it was an intense painting.

I went home and talked about this painting and this artist for days. I painstakingly explained what the symbols meant and how it made me feel. It has remained my favourite painting with no competition for the last thirteen years.

I was sitting on the bus last week when I think I realized why. As soon as I saw it on the wall, I immediately felt. I felt sad and a little bit scared and very alone. It sucked me in and more than a decade later it hasn't really let me go. I think that's quite an accomplishment. But it was most notably the first time in my life (that I know of) that I ever felt that way about a piece of art.

It was also the first time that it had ever occurred to me that as opposed to singing a happy song and smiling or singing a sad song with a sad face, someone might take a real feeling that they had and pour it into something they made to show other people or to get it out. Interesting that this came hot on the heels of participating in a show called Katharsis, right? ;) Maybe it wasn't so random after all.

I feel lucky that I can remember that exact moment, because it was like a switch went on in my head. I think it helped me to realize that lots of people may not yet have seen the piece that will explain that to them. I think my biggest dream in dance would be to be the cause of that light switch moment for someone else.

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