Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Nabi Yunus, Florida Man (238)

"Nabi Yunus, Florida Man (238)", oil on burlap mounted on canvas, 16x20". For sale on Etsy.
Opening lines of two poems by Elizabeth Bishop are scrawled in paint on burlap. "The state with the prettiest name, / the state that floats on brackish water" is the opening line of "Florida". "In one of the Assyrian wars / a chariot first saw the light / that bore sharp blades around its wheels" is the opening line of "Wading at Wellfleet". Both poems were included in her 1946 collection "North & South". My randomly selected topics were Florida Gold (color #238 in Naomi Kuno's Colorscape book) and the Assyrian Empire (from my DK Family Encyclopedia). Elizabeth Bishop joined the two topics by writing poetry that mentioned each one.

The painting evolved as I worked on it. The placement of the words was determined by the original shape of the objects in the painting. At first in the foreground was a large stone head excavated at Nabi Yunus in Nineveh, near modern-day Mosul, Iraq. While I worked on the painting, I learned about the terrorists destroying this and other ancient sites. I'll admit that I'm ill-equipped right now to comment directly on what is happening there, but it definitely was on my mind and filling me with disgust.

The background was based on a painting by Bishop. She made several small paintings in addition to writing poetry. This one was of the armory building in Key West, Florida. Nabi Yunus was the location of the armory of Nineveh. Bishop was inspired by Paul Klee among other artists. Klee made many paintings on burlap.

While I worked, I read several books about Florida (as well as the Assyrians). I learned about the human-caused destruction of the Florida Everglades, which also disgusted me. I hope to return to these topics, to do more than just feel disgusted, but for now this is what I have to offer.