art


Random quote of the day:

“It is human nature to want to exchange ideas, and I believe that, at bottom, every artist wants no more than to tell the world what he has to say. I have sometimes heard painters say that they paint “for themselves”: but I think they would soon have painted their fill if they lived on a desert island.”

—M. C. Escher, “On Being A Graphic Artist,” Introduction to 29 Master Prints

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Something that you feel will find its own form.”

—Jack Kerouac, Belief and Technique for Modern Prose

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

nagoro

This story isn’t exactly folklore—yet—but it should be. Maybe someday, given the way stories spread and change, it will be.

For now, this is the story of the small village of Nagoro, Japan whose population has dwindled drastically, going from 300 residents to 30. There are no children in the village anymore. It’s in the process of dying, like so many villages in Japan whose overall population is in decline.

Tsukimi Ayano saw the profound change when she returned to her village to care for her father fifteen years ago after living in Osaka for many years. Now sixty-seven, she’s one of the youngest people left in Nagoro. About ten years ago, she planted some seeds and needed a scarecrow to keep the birds away. She dressed it in her father’s clothes—with his permission—and noticed that the neighbors said hello to the doll. So she made more dolls, repopulating the village gradually, some representing people who had died as a form of remembrance, like her own grandmother, some made up from her fertile imagination. She’s repopulated the now-closed school, filling it with students and teachers, making it as she remembered it from her own youth.

She makes these dolls from joy, she says, not from loneliness or despair. They just make her happy.

The tourists have found Nagoro, and some of the neighboring villages have asked her to make scarecrows for them. Some people find them charming, some find them creepy, but such is the way of the world. Tsukimi Ayano says she will keep on making them as long as she is able to.

You can read the entire NPR story here and see more pictures of Ayano’s work.

Random quote of the day:

“To endure five years of rejection to get a job requires either a faith in oneself that borders on delusion, or a love of the work. I loved the work.”

—Bill Watterson, “Some Thoughts On the Real World By One Who Glimpsed It and Fled,” Kenyon College Commencement, May 20, 1990

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

—Antoine de Saint Exupéry, L’Avion, tr. Lewis Galantière

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“The Muse visits during the act of creation, not before. Don’t wait for her. Start alone.”

—Roger Ebert, Twitter, March 24, 2011

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“For me an object is something living. This cigarette or this box of matches contains a secret life much more intense than that of certain human beings.”

—attributed to Joan Miró

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“If I would sit at my desk and write a description of a beautiful sunset on a winter evening while people are dying 10 miles from my home, I would feel like a traitor. But if on the other hand, I use my storyteller’s pen to write manifestos in thin literary disguise, I will again feel like a traitor, to my art.”

—Amos Oz, interview, New York Times, December 13, 2003

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

IF

The Firewolf

Some years ago, when I was still doing art inspired by American Indian sprituality, I had a powerful dream. In this dream, I was gazing into a campfire out in the woods. An enormous grey wolf emerged from the fire, leaping over my head and knocking me flat on my back, his fur trailing sparks of fire that left my eyes dazzled. He ran off and disappeared into the darkness of the forest.

When I woke, I thought perhaps this was a power dream sent to me by the wolf spirit. My teacher had encouraged me to take such dreams seriously and to use them in the artwork. As it happened, I was in the process of making a medicine shield, an object inspired by personal visions, or vision quests, and used by various tribes to protect them spiritually. I figured the dream had sent me the image I needed for it.

When I presented the finished shield to my teacher, she was amazed. “What inspired you to use this image?” she asked.

I told her about the dream.

“You already knew about the firewolf, then?”

“Firewolf? No, I’ve never heard of that.”

She went on to explain that in the traditions of some tribes, fire is considered a wolf and must be treated with respect. You must remember to thank the firewolf for its help in keeping you warm and cooking your food, for the positive benefits it brings, or it might turn on you.

“It’s really significant,” she said, “that you had that dream and had never heard of the firewolf before.”

I thought so, too, and was amazed. I wondered briefly if it might be a case of cryptomnesia, where one is exposed to an idea but doesn’t recall the exposure. But whatever it was, I was thrilled.

I thought I’d write about it for the folklore blog. I duly set about looking up the firewolf legends on the internet in order to provide some references. And therein lies the problem. I found pagans named Firewolf, fictional stories about fire wolves, games featuring fire wolves, so clearly the concept is in the zeitgeist. But I found almost nothing about American Indian traditions concerning fire and wolves. According to Native American Mythology A to Z by Facts on File, Incorporated, the Ute Indians believed Wolf brought fire to mankind:

Tales frequently involve the theft of fire from the being that possessed it. Often the bringer of fire was an animal or a bird, such as Beaver (Nez Perce), Coyote (many traditions), Deer (Nootka), Fox (Jicarilla Apache), Muskrat (Anishinabe), Turkey (Cherokee), or Wolf (Ute). Grandmother Spider (Spider Woman) stole fire for the Choctaw. In one Cherokee tale, a water spider was responsible for the gift of fire.

So, I don’t know what tradition my teacher was referring to. Indian mythology is not a monolith—each tribe has their own set of stories and beliefs. Sometimes there’s overlap, but each tradition is unique, and there are many, many stories out there. I just have no idea which one she meant.

And the cryptomnesia idea is playing through my mind again, once I saw that the Utes believed Wolf brought the first fire. My mother, you see, grew up on the Ute reservation. It’s entirely possible I heard something along the way.

Which does nothing to diminish the vividness and power of that dream. That remains a gift of the unconscious realm, the realm where all things are possible, where mysteries are far more important than answers.

IF

Mother, with Firewolf

Random quote of the day:

“When looking at any significant work of art, remember that a more significant one probably has had to be sacrificed.”

—Paul Klee, diary entry, December 1904, #583, The Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918, ed. Felix Klee

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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