Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vale of Tears

Claudia Chapline, curator, puts the finishing touches on Judith's Vale of Tears. Her invitation to participate in Connections, an exhibition at the Red Barn Gallery, was the prompt to get the water flowing in this piece composed of hundreds of pieces of candy, food and cigarette wrappers, plastic bags, translucent pieces of plastic collected from Kehoe Beach.

Connections is part of an arts program related to the 2015 literary conference “Mapping a New Geography of Hope: Women and the Land."

Claudia is a tireless supporter of the arts. Not only is she a fine artist, she is the instigator and visionary for Art Contemporary Marin a non-profit that presents art in public places throughout Marin County.

James Elkins in his Pictures and Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings tells stories about paintings that have brought people to tears.  A letter from Angela C. describes her trip to Tokyo and the extraordinary scene of the impeccably formal Japanese crowding in to view the painting scroll of Nachi Falls. Even the typically reserved elders were weeping. The painting awakened a religious experience for the onlookers who believed that it was not just a painting of God, but was God itself. The Nachi waterfall is a holy site and a stop for travelers on a religious pilgrimage.

Elkins laments the scarcity of tears today, attributing it to the head-over-heart school of art that has made crying passé.  Which brings me to the question —  have I ever been so moved by a painting that I was brought to tears? Could I create a work of art that would bring others to tears?

Any amount of plastic found on Kehoe Beach should evoke a tear. The amount of plastic displayed here (all from Kehoe Beach) should evoke a cascade of deep crying. 

We hope that while Vale of Tears is on display at the Red Barn Gallery it will be revered as a sacred site for meditation and reflection; a place on the trail to Kehoe Beach where pilgrims will go to pick up plastic.

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