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Posts Tagged ‘John Donne’

GC Myers Post Card 350 small

My annual show at the West End Gallery opens in three weeks, on July 26th.  This year’s show is titled Islander.  Below is a short statement that I wrote for this show:

 

I am an islander. 

But I don’t live on an island. Never have and probably never will. 

No, my island is a metaphorical place, one that exists in the creative ether of my mind. An island that is completely apart from and immune to the outer world that exists across the deep surrounding waters. Self-sustaining and self-ruled, a blank slate on which I can create my own reality. 

It’s a place free from the ire and pettiness of others. Free of strife and injustice. and filled with the quiet of solitude. Filled with color, warmth and emotion. 

An island of creation and peace. 

But there is a paradox in being an islander. While trying to remain separate, it becomes abundantly clear that we can never really exist as totally independent from the outer world. Actually, to the islander those bonds to the outside world become even more apparent and important. The isolation only serves to heighten our recognition of our inclusion and connection to the world. You begin to recognize them as lifelines, bringing those things to the island that you cannot create in yourself. 

Try as one might, one can never live in isolation from their own humanity. I think the best you can do is to create an island that you can visit periodically to revitalize yourself. And that’s what I believe I see in the work for this show– paintings that take me away for a short while from the outer world and place me on that peaceful island. 

For that short time, I am truly an islander.

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No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne

Meditation XVII, 1624

 

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GC Myers- Not Quite an Island When I awoke in the middle of the night, as I wrote in the last post, I had a piece in my mind that I really wanted to start on.  It was simply a causeway running out to a piece of land, an almost-island.  That was all I had in mind.  I held no details on the island itself or even how the causeway would look, just an idea of a strip running outward.

This is the piece that emerged, a 16″ by 20″ canvas that I call Not Quite an Island.  The title is based, of course,  on the famed piece of writing from John Donne that begins with  No man is an island and ends with Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.  It’s often portrayed as a poem but it’s part of a sermon, Meditation XVII, from a book of his sermons  titled Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. Donne was writing on the interconnected nature of the world, how one man’s suffering was the suffering of all men, that the death of any man somehow diminishes the whole of mankind.

I saw this piece as being about the impossibility of ever truly detaching oneself from the outer world.  As hard as we might desire to seek  isolation from the world, we always remain connected by virtue of our own humanity.  And the causeway here represents that connection to me, a lifeline to the larger outer world with the path that runs along it up to the Red Tree almost serving as a root nerve connected to the larger spinal cord of the world.  To cut off that nerve, that connection, is to lose all feeling.

It’s a simple painting but the simplicity of it actually reinforces the message, in that the image makes a striking and easy first impression.  There’s a meditative quality here, an easy flow and harmony to this piece that brings my eye back to it again and again.  It’s actually just as I hoped it would be when I got out of bed at 3 AM a few days ago, filled with anxiety.  In its way, it has alleviated that angst.  For the moment.

As it should…


					

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