Thursday, April 18, 2013


I had this idea to do a series of women in a precarious position that most of us would not find ourselves. Initially, it was supposed to be a face and some flowers - practicing my version of art nouveau. As I progressed, the piece developed a message. Continue reading, you'll see what I mean.

I did this one over a few times.

I sketched it on white drawing paper and then tried to make a decent likeness on tonal paper. I liked the shape but when using colored pencil and trying to get where I thought it should look like....ugh! It wasn't working. She was looking really I ditched it and started all over again.

As I continued drawing, it reminded me of a woman I spoke to for a little while. This relatively attractive professional woman had this relationship with a man and had him move in to her home with her children. He had shown signs of being a violent person but instead of telling him to get out, she decided to work with what she had. She never married this man but still decided to remain with him. She left her home when he broke her arm. The violence never really registered with her. Even when she saw the look on her children's face, it wasn't really and truly violent in her mind. When she found herself in a shelter to be protected from him, it wasn't quite what caused her to see what she had done. It took a few days later when she was nursing her arm and someone noticed how it flopped (her arm). She went to the hospital and had an x-ray done. She looked at the light box of her arm (in the x-ray film) and saw the clean break of the bone. She started to freak out. Reality finally set in.

After I drew this image, I saw how I posed the arms and tried to do the same pose myself. It wasn't comfortable and the curve of my arm couldn't lie flat as I drew this one here. I didn't change it because of what she reminded me of. Even the expression of having gone through so much and still deciding to go through it again. No matter what I said, the director of the shelter, other residents in the shelter, it was her decision. She had to desire to be safe, if not for her, then her children. She had to request getting the PPO, the safe plan, change the locks, and call the police if he ever returns. She had to learn to love herself and know that she was worthy of being loved not abused.

Yeah, I saw her later...about 2-3 months. She was sitting in a popular hamburger restaurant. When she saw me. I think I stopped a few feet from the door and stood still in shock. She left the man at the table to talk to me. She didn't think I recognized him. She tried to convince me that they were only talking, but I knew better. She still had the cast on her arm. He never raised his head to see where she was going and who she was talking to...he was concentrating on the most perfect words to feed her. We paused for a moment....I didn't have anything left to say and she had to get back to her....meal.

The whole image reminded me of her even down to the twist of her body. She knew what was right but she had to keep going back to him for whatever the reason. Holding her arm, it just wasn't real...for her yet. I added flowers for the background because the red seemed so prominent against her skin. Evident to everyone, still she looks at the viewer hearing the words but not listening.

Black women aren't depicted too often in the style of art nouveau. I found this out about 5 years ago and was sadden by the discovery. Whether the original artists thought that black women weren't commercial enough to use or attractive enough - it was their loss. Long flowing hair is indicative of the style. I choose to shave the head of this work and have a small blonde fro. I thought about the recent medical survey showing that African American women are more prone to heart disease and have the highest rate of being susceptible to HIV. If that study is true, I wondered if it has anything to do with so many single black women raising their children without the fathers. I wondered about how women give themselves so casually because they are starved for affection and the men know it. I wondered if a father was around to tell his daughters how beautiful they are would that woman, mentioned earlier, have such a difficult time in making a decision that would seem so obvious to everyone else.

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