“April is the cruellest month.”
This project was meant to focused on abstraction. Before I could begin to deconstruct the deconstructed, I had to define what abstraction meant to me. I remembered my ninth grade English teacher telling me, “before you obscure something, you must construct it. Children, you need to know and follow the rules before you go against them.” She brought up the likes of Dr. Seuss, Pablo Picasso, and other artists who have gone against the grain of their formal training. I started to think about other artists who fit into this category, the men and women who decided to show the world through their lens.
This is how I got lost in the Wasteland. I remembered reading T. S. Eliot’s poem at the end of my senior year. I was enthralled by his disillusioned allusions. The illusory images of the monstrosity of mankind, leaving behind remnants of sweetness and sin. What drew me in to “The Wasteland” was T. S. Eliot’s manipulation of language and poetry. I was tickled by the idea that teams of scholars had to gather to dissect the interworking of his mind. I understood Eliot. I understood being misunderstood. I understood literary and conceptual abstraction. I understood the splendor of “The Wasteland.”
I then began to think of a color composition that matched my emotional response to each phrase.
“Lilacs out of the dead land”
I wanted muddied, bold, cool, purple tones to give the effect of a fresh sprig of lilac coming out of the crushed earth. At first, I painted an elementary scene of leaves sprouting from the earth, I then painted over it with a much darker purple.
“Son of Man”
I was inspired by the idea of an embryo and ultra sound imagery. I remember by teacher telling us that the “son of man” in the poem is believed to be alluding to Jesus Christ. I thought of the coloration of fish eggs and Piss Christ by Andres Serrano to convey the idea of Jesus in the womb.
“The drowned Phoenician Sailor”
I wanted to drown myself in blue. The Phoenicians were the greatest sea-farers. That is why the drowned Phoenician is such a tragic prophecy. I wanted to imagine myself as the drowned Phoenician. Asking myself, how would the water look to me if the first time I saw it was during my death?
“The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king.”
Philomel had her tongue removed by her rapist in order to keep her silent. I wanted to combine both feminine imagery with a loose interpretation of her tongue being ripped out.
“I will show you fear in a hand full of dust.”
I could not visualize this line. I could only feel it. I decided to use the brush to convey how I felt. The lighter the brush strokes, the more peaceful I felt during my process.