Monday, August 20, 2007

It's Just a Picture

Read about the death/dearth of credit and private equity in the Sunday papers all morning, then I go out and put my money on a piece of art and a pair of heels. The art was for a present, though (and the heels were the way on sale version). Rosemary Covey (studio in Torpedo Factory), an extraordinary wood engraver I've admired for years, has three latest series that are amazing; of course my favorite is the Strip series, which has erotic/power/couple themes. Some of the images, with BDSM overtones, are on display at the studio. Of course I go in with my daughter. Am I a terrible mom for putting her in any proximity to these images?

All I know is that she helped me pick out the present from the "tame" prints pile--a lovely image of two doves entwined on ivy--and spent about 15 minutes watching the artist hand-color an engraving from her latest series, based on manga, an image of a woman with a rat climbing her shoulder. She was painting the rat pink and purple, and explained to my daughter that the rat was a pet. She also said that the huge, interactive installation she's working on, the 0 project, has some components for kids, but they're centering it around Halloween, because some people find elements of it scary. I explain that we talk about how art can be scary sometimes. "Yes," she says to us, "but you know it's just a picture, right?" My daughter nods and asks again if she can please, please buy a notecard, an image of a dove flying into stars. I comply. On the way home, she asks if she can paint it, like the artist did.

On the windowsill outside Covey's studio, pigeons had roosted; the artist in the studio next door had placed metal spikes on the windowsill to try to keep them off. Instead, they nested, started a family. Covey put a piece of thick cardboard over the spikes to keep the baby pigeons safe. Just the day before, she said, they'd learned to fly.

My daughter was born just before 9/11. I spent five years in fear, not of terrorists, but of those in power right here, afraid that I would say or do the wrong thing and lose the one I loved so wildly, so without limits. I know I have to be brave enough to try to be my true self if she's ever going to be her true self. Then I see things like this, and I scuttle back into my hole like a ghost crab on an Assateague dune.

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