Ecstasy

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The series Dance evolved from a deep, fascination with physics and movement. Its elegance, beauty, power, spirit… The wonderful motion of dancers holds importance to me because it is what I strive for in my work. The ability to move with one’s whole body, from the inside out, to truly let go and open oneself up to a surprising spontaneity - that comes with complete connection to the current moment, all this is my process, the thing that enables my work to move, and all this is held within the body and practice of the dancer.

I am in awe of the dancer. I have always loved dance from the visual perspective of the observer, but as I began doing deeper research for this series I was stunned to discover the level of commitment, the pain and the injuries, and the unwavering attention to health and body, that these human beings put into their shining career, which bursts forth for a glorious, but short time before they move on to teaching, mentoring, or whatever it is that will occupy the next phase of their life.

I knew I loved dance the first time I was taken to see the ballet. I was a very young girl, when I first saw a live performance. However, as the ballet began I slowly to discover that I was smiling up at the stage from the darkened audience. I was puzzled at first, it took me more than time to realize that I was simply smiling because I was profoundly happy.

There was so much wonder and beauty there, everything that my paintings could only hope to become, one day. People have even asked me over the years since I have been creating these works if I myself was ever a dancer. I never was, but when I watch dance I see the letting go and discipline that the dancers achieve … exactly where my process begins. I find that when I am doodling, sketching quickly in pen on a grocery list, etc. the images I produce are, more often then not, dancers in motion. I felt an obligation to study dance - to try and understand the experience of the dancer before I began drawing them.

I went to Jacob’s Pillow in their off- season, and spent time riffling through books and videos in their expansive archive. I looked up the stories of dancers who defected from the Soviet Union … Baryshnikov and Nureyev to understand what made their expression worth risking their lives for. I was fascinated as I read about cultures who treat dance as worship, as a ritual to the gods. I needed to know all there was to know about dance, and then, when I approached my canvas, I needed to let it all the thinking go.

In the beginning of the creating of this pieces, I felt that my images were unsuccessful. I was far too controlled, too precious with them in my desire to pay homage to pay the proper respect of dance. While the images were drawn with adequate technique, they were failing to capture what I needed them to say. It was at this point though, looking upon mediocre work, when one feels one has nothing left to lose, and is therefore finally enabled to make a truly bold move. This cannot help but elevate the work to a poignant and powerful space. You cannot simply decide to make this move, it must arise within you. Should you attempt to force it, it would never wok. There is a quote which I have held onto for years which states “Make bold moves, and powerful forces will come to your aid.”

For years this has been an absolutely essential piece of my creative process. It is when we put everything on the line that we truly feel satisfied.

M K