“You're not the same as you were before," he said. "You were much more... muchier... you've lost your muchness.”
- The Hatter to Alice in Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Between falling down the rabbit hole and going through the looking glass, poor Alice was obliged to eat and drink things with strange effects, was mistaken for a flower, was given all manner of cryptic information by a variety of strange characters, was nearly be-headed, found herself forced to play a high stakes game of chess, and was ultimately unceremoniously dumped back into "reality" and expected to be her usual self as if none of it ever happened. No wonder she lost her muchness!
This painting is about re-finding my muchness.
Represented in the painting is the giant chess game played with an unpredictable opponent capable of changing the rules as the game progresses. There is a red brick castle (bearing a striking resemblance to Providence Portland Medical Center) where Alice repeatedly confronted the Queen of Hearts, the incarnation of capricious disease. A white rabbit in a lab coat provides guidance through a strange landscape but always seem to be running late and in a terrible hurry. The Red Queen (not to be confused with the Queen of Hearts) is a nemesis of Alice but also helps her win the chess game (did you know that the Red Queen's middle name is Adriamycin?). A Cheshire Cat represents a Soul Mate's ability to always appear at just the right moment, big goofy grin and esoteric references and all. At the top of the steps is the Hatter, slightly mad (but as we know, all the best people are!), who helps Alice face her fears. (A Hatter may also teach one to competently use a firearm during a period of weakness and vulnerability and inability to practice Krav Maga.)
And then there is my tough, red-headed protagonist. Alice has defeated the Queen of Hearts and in commemoration tattooed a Queen of Hearts playing card on her forearm, the card torn so that the Queen is beheaded. She's sending the Red Queen back to the castle, hoping to never see her again. Alice is blowing the smoke off the end of her gun because she has been practicing her marksmanship (in a parallel reality, it turns out to be really fun to use one's removed chemotherapy port as a target). Her friends the Hatter, the Cat and the White Rabbit have her back.
Around Alice's neck is a key... which I leave to your imagination...
I wear a lot of hats in life, encompassing a variety of roles and relationships. I am becoming more comfortable with the whole "cancer survivor" hat, even finding silver linings in unexpected places --- like adding artist to my self identity. "Blogger" hadn't really appealed to me until I began getting requests to talk about what lies behind my art. So I'm going to give it a try. If you have gotten to this page, you have probably noticed from my paintings that I am quite frank about my experiences. Some of the images are stark and difficult to look at. To me, beautiful is not the same as pretty. "Beautiful" encompasses complexity that can include pain, tragedy, and darkness. Therefore there can be a strange beauty present in stark emotional and experiential truth. I am a seeker of beauty within pain, and of the beauty that grows out of pain. If you are too, we'll get along just fine.