We personally savor the opportunity to see the world through artists’ eyes at any time of year, but there is a heightened significance during the holidays, when the approach of a New Year brings the desire for a clean slate, a snow-white tabula rasa from which to launch hopes, dreams and vision for a strong local community, and a more peaceful world.
This past week, we’ve heard many remark on the total lunar eclipse which coincided with the winter solstice – an event that last occurred in 1638, and will not repeat until 2094. For many, it was worth staying up late to observe the penumbral light show, in which the moon appears to take on a reddish hue before the earth blocks the sun’s rays, obscuring it. Engrossed in a latenight project, we noticed the clock just past midnight, and walked out into the silent street. Peering upward we marveled at the darkness looming over the streetlights, aware of so many other pairs of eyes searching the horizon, casting questions and celebration into the evening skies. The sliver of advancing moon seemed ripe with possibility.
To celebrate the holidays, Spaceworks Tacoma asked two local artists to share art work on the theme of peace. Andrea Erickson is a sumi-e artist whose work expresses a range of ideas in a few sure, deft strokes. For those unfamiliar with Japanese kanji, her brushwork may read as pictographs or powerful abstractions. She shared with us a piece titled Bamboo. Erickson says the supple, articulated green stalk of the bamboo plant represents a quality valuable to humans: “Even against the strongest winds the bamboo flexes, it bends, nearly touching the ground, but never breaks and keeps its delicate structure.” Likewise, “to resist the storms of conflict, hatred, and doubt” requires a similar strength and resilience. She notes that the bamboo traditionally represents characteristics of “strength, longevity, and friendship.” Erickson is a member of Puget Sound Sumi Artists.
Jeremy Mangan‘s vision of peace, General Sense of Well-Being, is both pastoral and metaphysical, with a series of barn-like structures strung tenuously across a night sky. He says the work “is very much inspired by what the holidays are at their best: times of genuine comfort, gratitude, and peace. We live in a broken world where such times are all too rare; when they come they are a gift and a mercy and we ought to slow down and take notice….No, it can’t last, but we’ll take it while we can get it.” Mangan was the 2009 recipient of the Foundation of Art Award, from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. He has an exhibition opening at the Linda Hodges Gallery in Seattle, in February 2011.