like the Fool’s card—zero played
I’ve been neglecting the Secret Keeper’s prompts the past few weeks for lack of time, not interest. They are always like a puzzle for me, coming together in unexpected ways when I start to write. The appearance of the Fool, after a few drafts of ideas, was definitely a surprise. But serendipity is always part of the work I do. The end is never where I thought I was going.
I took the photos of Japanese ceramics with the beautiful window light reflected on the glass display cases at the Metropolitan Museum last spring. I was reminded of them by Marcy Erb’s post a few weeks back of a photo with reflected light on a Buddha, and I think they fit with this poem.
And I’ve resurrected a few Fools from past posts. The Fool (Zero in the Tarot) represents for me a capacity to be surprised and delighted, to leave an empty space to be filled by life. Wonder is everywhere; we just need make some room for it occasionally.
Lines that quote
the face, the hair, the
reign of years
first captured by sculpted earth.
Copy as copy copied.
I went to the Met to see Max Beckmann (excellent) and ended up drawing masks, as usual. The one above is French, from the 1800’s, sculpted on a vessel of some sort.
I drew this Mexican “twisted face mask” (dated 600-900) twice, because it looked very different from each side. It reminded me of Jack Davis’ artistic attempts to define his relationship to his autistic brother Mike. It must have been based on a member of the community, providing a link to the long-standing effort of humans to consider and include those who fall outside the spectrum of “normal”.
This grinning monkey from the Ivory Coast also caught my eye.
The poem uses the Secret Keeper’s prompt words this week.
I’ll be here a bit irregularly for awhile as I have some projects I need to finish…
…or at least that’s the way it looked when we entered this room at the Met.
I don’t know, even when I know what she’s actually got in her hand,
it still looks like she’s checking out the screen to me.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, June 2016
I was on the east side yesterday, and having a membership to the Metropolitan Museum (a yearly Christmas and birthday gift), I stopped in for the Members Preview of the new Egyptian exhibit.
The museum was really crowded! Lots of groups…not just children, but adult groups.
The Egypt exhibit itself was very crowded at the start, but the crowds tapered off as I moved along. It’s huge! Lots of great and interesting pieces.
I decided to focus my camera on hands.
The guards weren’t sure if photography was allowed, but everyone seemed to be doing it, so they said OK.
I did get a chance to do some sketches, too, near the end when there were less people looking, so I wasn’t blocking the view (or being blocked).
a mummy mask
two views of a mourning figure
a repaired statue head
a crocodile god
and a bovine diety…lost the horns somewhere, though
Oh our Mother the earth, Oh our Father the sky,
Your children are we, and with tired backs
We bring you the gifts you love.
Then weave for us a garment of brightness;
May the Warp be the white light of the morning,
May the weft be the red light of the evening,
May the fringes be the falling rain,
May the border be the standing rainbow.
Thus weave for us a garment of brightness,
That we may walk fittingly where birds sing,
That we may walk fittingly where grass is green,
Oh our Mother Earth, Oh our Father Sky.
–Native American Prayer
I finally got to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Plains Indian exhibit a few days ago. It’s only there for another week. This “drawing of the artist’s world” was among my favorite works on display. I tried to do some sketching, but it was very crowded and I couldn’t really stand in the way of people trying to see the objects for long.
The painted buffalo robes had many wonderful figures, and I would have loved to draw them all. But I had to be satisfied with just a few.
The head on the left is from my late 70’s Italian sketchbook (the only note says “Museo Nazionale” so I don’t know anything else about it). On the right is an ivory carving from Nimrod done in 9th- 8th Century BC.
Yesterday I had an appointment on the East Side in the middle of the day, so I went over a little early and spent an hour sketching at the Met. I went back to the Assyria to Iberia exhibit to look at the sculptures and carvings again. Above are two objects from Egypt. The bird man is really tiny. Sekhmet, on the left, was a necklace ornament.
This head is from a very large sculpture of a scorpion bird-man from the Syro-Hittite culture, done in the early 9th Century BC. It reminded me of the sphinx head I did in Italy (evidently in the Borghese Gardens). Although I used a much larger sketchbook then, I still didn’t manage to fit the entire figure in.
An hour is not very long for sketching, so I didn’t even get near the flying creatures in iron. Next time…the exhibit is only there until January 11 though.
Elephants once roamed in Syria, Turkey, and Iraq. This species became extinct about 100 BC due to overhunting for ivory. I discovered this fact at the “Assyria to Iberia” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which contains spectacular carved ivory art.
Once again we are in danger of losing elephant species; one prediction has African elephants reaching extinction in 2020. Asian elephants are even more endangered; there are less than 30,000 left in the wild. Not only hunting for ivory is at fault this time. Habitat loss (as usual) is also a factor. And poachers are also looking for ingredients for traditional Asian medicine.
I saw a photo of a swimming elephant that captivated me, and then looked at many others online. In my collage I made the elephant out of rock, sinking as it tries to swim. I hope human efforts can help these beautiful creatures survive this time.
You can see the rest of the “endangered species” series here: https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/category/painting/endangered-species/
Medusa was the Gorgon who turned those who gazed upon her to stone. She had snakes for hair, and is often portrayed by the ancient Greeks with her tongue sticking out and/or with tusks or a beard. Most modern interpretations keep the snakes, but make her more beautiful.
Having a visitor in New York City almost always means going to iconic places. My guest last week likes to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when she’s in town, a place with a collection so vast that I always find things I’ve never seen (or noticed) before. We spent a long time in the ancient Greek rooms on Friday.
I liked this Medusa on the handle of a jug, which brought to mind that I had done a Medusa collage a few years ago. I remembered too the little embroidered mask, which is closer to this Greek portrayal because it’s based on ancient Greek sources.
I also used Caravaggio’s Medusa as a reference for my page on him in the “Art I Like” Sketchbook Project.
After Perseus cut off Medusa’s head by using a mirrored shield, he gave it to Athena for her own shield. And so an image of Medusa is thought by some to have protective powers.