Last Friday I attended the opening of Mood Indigo at Seattle Asian Art Museum. It was a beautiful spring evening, the sky luminous over the park, and inside the refined Art Deco building everything shimmered in pale shafts of daylight and the flicker of blue votives. The museum’s refined and stately ambiance makes any event an occasion, although curator talks can sometimes plunge me into deep states of cultural narcolepsy. Not this time! To hear curator Pam McClusky speak is to go to Burning Man without leaving your chair. As she told the story of Indigo she took us on a riveting journey through ancient civilizations and exotic lands, weaving history, myth, poetry and metaphor into a dazzling tapestry. In this exhibit her wit and insight is evident throughout, and every caption is worth a study. [Read more…]
“Thus we live in a world that first existed inside the heads of others, a world built up through innumerable sustained acts of intentionality, a world where everything speaks not of nature and her processes but of its makers in their resistance to those processes. In a very real sense we can be described as living inside the heads of others, in an excess of interiority that obliterates our own relation to material origins, to biologies, to our bodies. In some way, making was intended to override the givens of nature, to create a world; that world has itself become a given whose terms are more limited in their scope for imagination and act. The world is so thoroughly made it calls for no more making, but for breaching its walls and tracing its processes to their origins. “Taking apart” has become the primary metaphor and “backward” the most significant direction: the creative act becomes an unraveling, recouping the old rather than augmenting the new. ” –Rebecca Solnit
This week I am reading Rebecca Solnit’s provocative new book “A Paradise Built in Hell” about the upside of catastrophe. It seems to be affecting my color palette and sense of composition. We are at the burnt gray edge of March here in Seattle, where the only blue you will see is on a broken plate. Or the telephone poles. Praise be for the precious scrap of cyan.
“The possibility of paradise hovers on the cusp of coming into being, so much so that it takes powerful forces to keep such a paradise at bay. If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.”
—Rebecca Solnit, from A Paradise Built in Hell