Sunday, September 25, 2011

Creating from a Dark Place

Childhood Memories. 12"x12" collage

Did I believe I had a clear mind?
It was like the water of a river
flowing shallow over the ice. And now
that the rising water has broken
the ice, I see that what I thought
was the light is part of the dark.
--- Wendell Berry

Ray Johnson, early collage, Untitled, 1957-58

RAY JOHNSON: The story of the life (and death) of Ray Johnson is cloaked in mystery. Throughout his career he was difficult to know and understand. Johnson is known as the founding father of MAIL ART...and as a collage artist. But he was overshadowed by artists like
Andy Warhol and he became more reclusive... mailing his art to his few friends. He had been called the most famous unknown artist in the world.

Ray Johnson was also a performance artist. To try and separate the man from his art is impossible. He lived his art and he thought he was the embodiment of art. Some say his
suicide was his last art performance. When he was 67, on Friday Jan. 13, 1995 he jumped off of the Sag Harbor bridge in NYC. Many aspects of his life - and death- involved the number 13.
His age (67, 6+7), the room number he checked into earlier that day (247, 2+4+7).

There is an award winning feature length documentary (2002) about his life and art directed by John Walter titled HOW TO DRAW A BUNNY. Follow this link to a one minute movie trailer.

Special Note: International Mail Art Exhibition and Swap, deadline October 1, 2011. See details at this link.

HANNELORE BARON: She was a young child in Germany when Hitler rose to power. Her family barely escaped the Holocaust.
Small. Intimate. Personal. Compelling. Moving. Mysterious.

"It is her work's fragility, both physical and spiritual-- the sense of quiet, private anguish expressed through forlorn materials and cryptic, edgy scrawls-- that have often been cited as the defining characteristics of Baron's art." Michael Kimmelman, NY Times, 1993

ANSELM KIEFER: The history of Germany, the Holocaust and the horrors of war also inform Kiefer's life and art. Although unlike Hannelore Baron, his works are often large and monumental, though they are just as personal, and compelling and emotional.

His works are characterized by a dull, musty, nearly depressive, destructive style... deeply textured. "The truth is always gray." --- Anselm Kiefer

Sometimes it takes darkness... while it is painful to experience or endure...
the light that is hard won offers the greatest illumination...and can lead to the greatest

In the early 1990's Kiefer moved from Germany to the south of France where he created a landscape extending over acres--- miles of corridors, huge studio spaces with large paintings and monumental constructions, always growing and changing. OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW is an almost wordless documentary by Sophie Fiennes about this monumental project.


Leslie Avon Miller said...

Hemingway said "write hard and clear about what hurts."

I have been particularly drawn to Hannelore's works - intimately small, personal story telling in textiles, shapes, marks. Forlorn is a good word for the overall atmosphere in her work.

In my family, WWII left a very lasting mark on those involved.

Your collage looks like a story too.

ZenDotStudio said...

I love your "Childhood Memories" and as always lots of food for thought and new sources in your posts.

We all have a dark side, whether we admit it or not, Jung called it the shadow.

I must say that for me there is much learning in the difficult. It is like compost, this darkness that is used as a source of expression by the artists you show us here (and many others).

I have been looking forward to your post!

Yvette said...

Thank you for sharing Donna, all my dark memories appears and sadness came over me. The line between light and dark is so thin. At the moment I write this down, my dog lets me know it's time to play....happiness !!!!

Petra Eller said...

Watch out on the dark side and try follow the bright line. But never forget the colourful side sometimes.

I'm fascinated by the image-centric allocation (four pieces) in your collage. Great.
sorry my english :)

Anonymous said...


Much to savour here this evening.

I am born from German war survivors. I feel the burden that was passed on, like many other children born the same way...

Barry said...

D- powerful collage of yours and a powerful post. B

annell4 said...

A wonderful post. I saw that piece, How to Draw a Bunny.

annell4 said...

"We work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our doubt. All the rest is the madness of art." You made me think of the Henry James quote.

Momo Luna S!gnals said...

Intense heartfelt post.

Kim Hambric said...

So much to explore and think about here, Donna. Thanks for introducing me to so many artists.

So much comes from that dark roux deep down inside of us.

ArtPropelled said...

Seeing the video for the first time I'm amazed at what Kiefer has created. It certainly stops one in one's tracks!

Sue said...

Kiefer is one of my favorite German artists, but his works can be overwhelming. I like your beautiful childhood collage - and childhood as a dark place is quite a new, convincing thought to me. Can't remember being radiantly happy as a child, however much childhood is often glorified.

mansuetude said...

Thanks for the video.

It reminds me, Even thoug we walk away from ourselves, so often seeking a "peace" in solitude with nature--no Structure is alive wih vitality without humankind's tending, eye & heart, genius, voice, touch.

Ruins are the absence--of Soul.

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

These are powerful works and some of my favorite artists. I fell in love with Hannelore Baron's work the first time I saw it in a catalog....and in person, enough to make you cry. Thanks so much for sharing this work and the reminder of the power and light that come from the dark places. Best wishes to you!

lynda Howells said...

thank you for talking about a few of my favorite artists and it is a while since l saw the video and l really enjoyed seeing againxxthank youxxxlynda

Unknown said...

I love your piece at the beginning of this post. Those figures seem to be walking through time itself. Thanks for walking us through some new artists.

Caterina Giglio said...

I have long been drawn to Hannelore's work, but the others were new to me. Your Childhood Memories really touches me deeply. Thanks for the post Donna. x

Donna Iona Drozda said...

A most beautiful and timely post...the works are compelling, all.

This season begins the call to turn inward and to descend into the Underworld... to courageously wrestle with the shadows on the walls of the cave. I call it being scared better vehicle than the Art/Life.

thank you... Always... for what you bring.

Magdalena said...


I recently found your blog and i really love your work and find your blog very interesting...Thank you for all the inspiration you give!

My best regards


Sarah Grossberg said...

What a great post. I love all these artists you've written about and I always love your artwork.
Thank You!

Anna Mavromatis said...

The powerful hold of childhood memories... expressed so clearly and so beautifully in your collage!

Lynn said...

Powerful works - all of them. It does seem that the most impacting art often comes from that deep place within us - that darkly enchanted forest of our selves.

amy of studio four corners said...

I always learn something new when reading your posts - thank you

elena nuez said...

inspiring me a lot!!!!

Lucky Dip Lisa said...

This post has made me sad, inspired and thoughtful all in one sitting...I see the collage you made in a different light now but I still adore it. It's an emotive piece and I am drawn to it. Wonderful work Donna.

Deborah said...

So much to think about. Wonderful post.

Susan - said...

Beautiful, powerful and interesting post. Thank you for introducing me to such wonderful work.

diane said...

Thank you, Donna -- this is thoughtful, powerful and inspiring.

nancy neva gagliano said...

thank you, donna.
so true...all.
often so sad.
and ray johnson/his life via that film
shares so much.
just saw 'sophie's choice' this week.
such extreme, painful trauma

as our lightness/darkness balance leaves the equinox mark,
let's turn to our inner sparks.

Valerianna said...

I once saw an exhibition of Hannelore Baron's work in NYC, it was beautiful - there was a sense of artifact and decay with great subtlety that I loved. Wonderful...

Losaiche said...

I love this blog and i follow you.

Judy Martin said...

I had to come back to look at Anselm Kiefer's work again and see the video one more time. It is so very haunting.

Also a fan of Hannelore's work for a long time...and I believe of yours too.

Thanks for this very thoughtful post and your blog in general.