The Library – What Remains
During the winter of 2006 I painted The Library. I took years of observation and thoughts and fused them with an image that represented observation and thought. The bindings of the leather bound books were a place to get lost in inventing elaborate and enigmatic patterns. The carved wood bookcase took on it’s own life as the vigor of the carvings became animated. The gilded frame was based on antique designs and then filtered through several old master renditions of yellows and ochre’s and a hint of sienna to achieve a gold effect. I have worked in homes with hand-stenciled wallpapers and restored furniture that bore similar patterns, so that detail came easily.
There is a painting inside the painting, or is it a window, or a mirror? It is also visual pun that depicts the month of August and the entire painting represents August Learning. It is a combination of bright sun and shady bower, cool stream and white heat. It is a place where Diana and her nymphs might bathe and be startled by Actaeon. Nature is a place where the modern mind seeks awareness and tranquility, but the ancients knew that it is suffused with tragedy and fury and they personified this force with their stories.
I painted The Library in the depths of winter, a quiet time when I find myself in a vast, inexhaustible realm of the imagination, a garden or Library. What Libraries did I have in mind? I thought of the labyrinths of Jorge Luis Borges. He, who said: “I have always imagined that paradise will be some kind of a library.” I thought about the library of Nag Hammadi where the Gnostic gospels were discovered. I thought about the library of Ashurbanipal where the Epic of Gilgamesh was discovered, and inspired Alexander the Great to emulate, which begat the Library of Alexandria that began under the tutelage of Ptolemy.
What is a library other than the opposite of a garbage dump? A repository for the best of the fruit of mankind’s thoughts and songs and beliefs, a guardian of history and a corner stone for building a future. Some of the tablets of time get broken and the gaps, the lacuna are filled in by the future in a game of “Mad Libs” or “Telephone”.
What will remain, after Texas succeeds from seceding from the Union?
After peace finally breaks out in the Middle East, or war descends upon it.
What will come to be after the “big one” in California or the next Tsunami the next Mao, Pol Pot or Martin Luther King? The next Age of Enlightenment, the next summer of love?
At the end of history, what will remain?
“Windows Into Worlds” will be on display at the Belfast Free Library’s Kramer Gallery through February.
Kathy graduated from Washington University School of Fine Arts in 1984, and apprenticed with Bob Blackburn at the Printmaking Workshop in Manhattan, from 1985-86.
Primarily a painter, Kathy also works in wood, stone and clay. Her photographs are an extension of her artistic ideas and observations. Her career in antique and architectural restoration has infused a dimension of historical language into a contemporary conversation.
After living in Manhattan, New York from 1984-2003, she and her husband now reside in Morrill, Maine.