I cannot say I ever imagined living in a world where alongside my books and artwork I would be happy to offer people designer face masks. Under the current coronavirus circumstances, use of the word ‘Beauty’ along with ‘Face Mask’ in a headline might strike some as contradictory, or even frivolous. I promise it is not.
Extraordinary masks have been employed for centuries in different cultures for holiday celebrations as well as times of battle. Right now, the world’s populations are very much at war, more this time around with an assassin virus than with each other. Since the threat of COVID-19 apparently is not going away any time soon, the option to add potentially life-saving face masks to the inventory of art products offered through my Fine Art America and Pixels.com shop is a welcomed chance to support a critical mission.
The move also supports and demonstrates a long-held contention that art in and of itself is innately functional in many important ways. This time it is proving useful in the fight to help flatten the coronavirus curve long enough for scientists and doctors to come up with a vaccine and/or cure. The opportunity to contribute to those efforts would naturally mean a lot to someone for whom creative artistry and civic activism have often gone hand in hand.
What’s Beauty Got to Do With It?
After making the decision to commit some of my visual works for use as mask designs, I thought at first only the newest images created for the Confronting COVID-19 collection would be suitable for face mask designs. Some of these had already sold in other formats. Then someone pointed out how any number of my Silk-Featherbrush paintings could be customized for the same purpose. Customers themselves retain the ability to customize the mask by adjusting the image size and specific area of the artwork they would like printed on the mask.
Beauty, the inner variety as well as the outer, inspires determined effort and determined effort often makes all the difference between an operation’s failure or success. Art’s therapeutic effect to help relieve stress and heal trauma is well known. It can provide, as I have always hoped is the case with ELEMENTAL, the Power of Illuminated Love, a more creative life-affirming response to conflicts between nations or individuals. It can replace inertia with energy and transform a sense of hopelessness, such as that which so many are experiencing these days, into one of inspired resilience.
Harlem Renaissance Centennial
Last month (May 2019) the editors of Excellence Reporter, a website based in France, asked me to respond to these interview questions: "What makes a compassionate city or community?" and "What is the meaning of life?"
The way my creative instincts work these days, questions of this kind tend to inspire both verbal and visual considerations. Anyone wishing to check out the verbal part provided Excellence Reporter is invited to visit the following pages:
The visual results came in the form of two new works of Silk-Featherbrush art now available at Fine Art America and Pixels.com. The one seen just below is titled Journey towards a Brand New Day, and the other further down is called Battle for the Beauty of the Sun.
Journey towards a Brand New Day is my visual metaphor for engaged citizens around the world taking stands against different forms of social and political injustice while simultaneously celebrating their appreciation of life and each other. They are motivated more by visions of compassion and unity than by political sleights of hand.
Election years, like the one we're in right now (or soon will be as 2020 approaches), tend to come with built-in headaches. But there's also a lot of beauty in the way diverse communities assert themselves to participate in a process where the outcome is usually uncertain. Protests currently taking place in Hong Kong are one form of such expressions.
On this canvas we see waves of determined chromatic lines moving toward a shadowy horizon. Streaks of magenta reflecting against a cobalt blue and indigo sky symbolize emerging potential and hope that sometimes wavers but never completely fades.
The Extraordinary Adventure that Life Is
I see the image here titled Battle for the Beauty of the Sun as representative of resistance to different forms of extremism which increase polarization and encourage violence as a means for resolving conflicts. Although done with a minimalist approach in the Silk-Featherbrush style, it is meant to convey movement toward balance and fulfillment.
In addition to the questions posed by Excellence Reporter, the composition of Battle for the Beauty of the Sun was also heavily influenced by my reading of Asian author Yang Jisheng's Tombstone, the Great Chinese Famine 1958-1962. TOMBSTONE in particular reminded me of some human beings' strange habit of intentionally corrupting or destroying the abundance of beauty which surrounds us on a daily basis. But how fortunate we are that many more employ their energies toward the exact opposite: preserving and creating all that which makes life the extraordinary adventure it is.
Harlem Renaissance Centennial
This is technically the third work of art to be included in my Redbird Series but the fourth included in the Redbird Gallery at Fine Art America . A recent visitor to the gallery shared some comments offline about her interpretations of the meaning of red cardinals in my life. I found her remarks very interesting because they reminded me of passages from one of my most recently-completed manuscripts in which I discuss how different birds have functioned as symbols in my literary work. Probably the best known is identified in the title of the poetry collection: Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black.
What I find particularly interesting about the red cardinal is that it actually has not been incorporated into my writings. The preferred mode of creative expression, where it is concerned, seems to be visual art.
While finishing "Redbird in the Valley of Beautiful Possibilities," I recalled a former co-worker telling me the red cardinal was kind of like a shooting or falling star. "When you see a red bird," she explained, "you should blow it a kiss for good luck." I don't know how many people have discovered that to be either true or false but the artist in me considers the idea very poetic.
As the title indicates, this mixed media text edition of "Climate Change Is Not Fake News" is meant to function primarily as a poster. It is a very different work visually from the first non-text edition on a number of points easily apparent when comparing the two.
Debates get underway every day about the severity of climate change, or global warming, in the modern era and hopefully some will find this work useful. Is climate change real or is it just fake news which media uses to stir up drama and boost ratings?
Some claim we are experiencing a period of increased planetary warming as part of a natural pattern of changes in the Earth's atmosphere. Others say we are experiencing the direct impact of human disregard for the environment. This, they say, has brought us close to a "tipping point" likely to have increasingly catastrophic results. The divisions are so clear-cut that one U.S. presidential administration (Barack Obama's) readily signed up for the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming. But the next administration (Donald Trump's) just as quickly nullified U.S. participation in the program set to begin in 2020.
No matter which side of the debates you stand on, video footage of huge shelves of ice breaking off from the Antarctic, raging fires devouring communities in California (56 currently nationwide), heatwaves causing Europeans to faint in the streets, and horrific floods in India and elsewhere are unsettling. Therefore, they are forcing more and more dialogues on the subject.
Personally, I would prefer to err on the side of overly-cautious preventive measures rather than apathy or negligence. The Earth most likely can survive and continue evolving beyond human-induced anomalies. The real important question might be can we survive such indifference ourselves?
"Climate Change Is Not Fake News FIRST EDITION" is mixed media horizontal landscape-formatted artwork consisting of urbanscape photography, layered oil, digital painting, custom-designed matting, customized framing, and signature Postered Chromatic Poetics digital processing.
This print is the first of a pair examining public narratives pertaining to how reports on climate change are perceived and interpreted. The colors at the center of the image reflect those which have dominated 2018 reports on global warming. The large formatting of this artwork makes it an ideal choice for filling an open wall area.
Have We Reached a Tipping Point?
Some claim we are experiencing a period of increased warming as part of a natural pattern of changes in the Earth's atmosphere. Others say we are experiencing the direct impact of human disregard for the environment. This, they say, has brought us close to a "tipping point" likely to have increasingly catastrophic results.
The divisions are so clear-cut that one U.S. presidential administration (Barack Obama's) readily signed up for the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on global warming. But the next administration (Donald Trump's) just as quickly nullified U.S. participation in the program set to begin in 2020.
No matter which side of the debate you stand on, video footage of huge shelves of ice breaking off from the Antarctic, raging fires devouring communities in California, heatwaves causing Europeans to faint in the streets, and horrific rainstorms in India and elsewhere are unsettling. Therefore, they are forcing more and more dialogues on the subject.
Aug 21, 2018
Award-winning author and artist acclaimed for works in multiple creative genres.