I wanted to approach Alice Neel’s painting “Symbols”, my prompt-choice for The Kick-About #5, in a different way than I had done previously. The inspiration for this 3-D collage came when I was cleaning out some papers and came upon the paper insert for the Evanescence cd “Fallen”. The cover photo of Amy Lee seemed to echo the face of the doll Neel had painted.
upon my end I shall begin–
I’m going under
I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
without a thought without a voice without a soul
the truth drives me into madness,
my spirit sleeping somewhere cold
no one’s there–
never was and never will be
save me from the nothing I’ve become,
return to me salvation
maybe I’ll wake up for once,
fallen angels at my feet
let me stay,
bow down and stare in wonder
I know who you are–
the goddess of imaginary light
This was music my younger daughter played over and over in her adolescence, and it was fun to go to YouTube and pull up the songs. I still like them. Maybe I even like them more now. Amy’s voice is a force, and she can be way over the top. But the gothic flavor of the music seemed also apt to the painting.
As I did recently, I did the main collage on a fold out card so it could stand up. I then created a field of paper flowers and a purple sky inspired by the lyrics of the song on the Fallen album called “Imaginary”. Then I photographed it from a few angles. Above and below are all the individual elements.
The poem is a cento, composed from lines in the songs on the album.
How does all this relate to Alice Neel’s painting? As reflected in my previous collages, I think Neel is addressing her struggle as a woman, a mother, an artist, a person constrained by family and cultural circumstances. She lost her oldest child to her husband’s family who considered her an unsuitable mother. The life she chose was not easy, but she never gave up her need and her right to make her art. Must a woman be only a virgin mother or a childless whore? And why should gender determine who we are or what we can be at all?
You can see the other collages I did based on this painting here.
I would be remiss if I did not include a few Evanescence videos. If it’s not your style of music, you can turn the sound down and just enjoy the visual barrage.
And here’s a live version of “My Immortal”, the hit from “Fallen”. That’s the song I remember coming out of my daughter’s room.