Sunday, 7 December 2014

What Does Your Work Say About You?

The Can Can - ATC
I love France. I love the French. The country and their people intrigued me from the time I was a child. I guess you could say I was born a Francophile.

Before I learned to read, my Mom and I would walk to the Brooklyn Public Library six days a week. And there in the children's section, was my treasure trove. I would run to the books with the opening lines that set my imagination free... "In an old house in Paris, that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines... the smallest one was Madeline." How I adored Ludwig Bemelmans' Madeline series!

And that was just the beginning. I dreamed of France...of seeing for myself the beautiful streets described in Bemelmans' books. I wanted to experience the art, the culture, the sights, the smells, the food of that wonderful country.

All those feeling came rushing back to me when looking through my collection of ATCs. I found my homage to the dance I performed  at our "Christmas Around the World" school play. Ah...The Can-Can! At last! The play that year was my chance to experience Art Nouveau Paris and The Moulin Rouge. Visions of Lautrec danced in my mind!

It was years later when living in England that I made my pilgrimage France. With that first trip my feet were finally planted in the country of my childhood dreams. And everything was even better than I had hoped. The French could be "difficult", I was warned, especially in Paris. I had also heard that about my home city, New York. I knew it wasn't true about New York...could it be the same for the City of Light?

With my extremely basic hold on their lyrical language, I ventured into the streets of Paris. I found a small bistro off the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and did my best to order an omelette without the sausage. The waiter was patient and wonderfully helpful. And he responded to me in his equally basic English. What arrived at my table, honestly, was the greatest meal of my life. Imagine my surprise when the waiter said if I didn't like it the chef could make me something else!

This exchange set the tone of my first trip and for all the ones after. Regardless of national origin, we are all the same...sharing the same hopes, dreams, and desires. The French say it perfectly...joie de vivre...a philosophy of life.

I used a standard manila ATC card for the substrate. Text from travel brochures, and dictionary pages were added.  I found a vintage image of the dancers and finished the card with rubber stamped images and acrylic paint.

As artists we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap we sometimes feel when taking a journey to somewhere new. Everyone, everywhere, wants to be treated with respect. We all want to feel that we do matter. Our work says more about us than words can ever convey. What does your work say about you?