04 July 2007

Inspiration from unexpected sources

just one thing 8" x 8"

Inspiration can come from unusual directions - a color combination, a concept, a societal issue, a song, a word or phrase may be fascinating and compelling enough to inspire a work of art or a series of works. One thing I've been thinking a lot about recently is climate change. I've been working on a series using beetles to represent the effects of global warming on nature and her creatures. Carl Sagan, one of my childhood heroes, used to say that the only living thing that had a chance of surviving a nuclear holocaust would be a cockroach.

Beetles are more appealing to me, yet symbolize that tenacity of existence that Sagan alludes to with their hard shells, their armored protection against predation and assault. At the same time there is something innately fragile about a beetle's carapace, so easily crushed by force, so vulnerable to chemicals and toxins. The earth itself is, like the beetle, a juxtaposition, strong and fragile, enduring and in jeopardy.

The overall series on climate change is entitled Caída Libre, "free fall" in Spanish. I've made pieces as large as 9" x 12" in this series and as small as 1.5" square. More of these tiny pieces are shown here. There's something in the air, because Terry Grant has been working on itty, bitty art too.

My husband, Carlos, is an oil painter and it's energizing to live and work in close contact with another artist - especially one working in another medium. His sources of inspiration are as varied and interesting as anyone I've ever known. The vast majority of his work is abstract. He works large (especially compared to me!), often 5 feet by 7 feet or greater, and with a heavy impasto. His current series is inspired by photographs of fancy chickens. The forms, shapes, colors and textures found in poultry is an admittedly unlikely thing to inspire a whole series of giant, abstract paintings, but there it is. I don't think it's necessary that the viewer know an artist's source of inspiration, but it can definitely add something to the experience.


PaMdora said...

Hi Jane, Love your beetles. I think bugs are so interesting and beautiful, but never have thought of anything to do with them in art (well except one graphic project) but you're really achieved something unique here. Thanks for your comments about my blog!

Terry said...

I love your beetles. I made some beetle pieces a year ago and have decided to pull them out and rework them a bit. I think beetles are also "in the air".