Monday, February 10, 2014

Creating art with both beauty and meaning.

Rose Symbolism in Elizabethan Poetry by Miriam Schulman @schulmanArt

Go Forth Lovely Rose, mixed media collage art 11x15"
This mixed media collage art started as a simply drawn and painted watercolor and layers of beauty and meaning were added as the painting metamorphosed like the butterflies floating around the girls head. The woman in the purple dress tightly clutches a rose and her beauty is obscured by the butterflies around her. I knew I wanted to add meaning to the art-- either by putting a word on the painting or creating a narrative. I posted works in progress photos on facebook and asked folks for ideas and the suggestions for a word or a phrase to suggest meaning. The butterflies suggested change and metamorphis. However, I knew that the rose she was clutching in her hand had meaning too that needed to be addressed. At first I thought that perhaps she was a rosebud that needed to bloom, but after looking at Elizabethan poetry which used the rose as life/death symbolism in their carpe diem poems, I knew that these were more fitting metaphors for what I was trying to say in my art. Carpe diem is a Latin expression that means "seize the day." Carpe diem poems have the theme of living for today.These poets use the rose as a symbol of fleeting beauty or fleeting life that must be enjoyed in the present.  The rose is a very important symbol used to describe youth and beauty, along with the death and suffering.

Gather Ye Rosebuds, mixed media collage art 11x15"
For the first painting, I settled on the title Go Forth Lovely Rose. The title alludes to the poem by Edmund Waller, Go Lovely Rose. The poem's interpretation is that the young lady wastes her time by remaining aloof. Before she realizes it, she will wither and die, like the rose. Therefore, the poem says, she should come out of hiding and reveal her beauty, like a blooming rose, in order to take advantage of what life has to offer before youth passes her by.

However, when painting this, I had spring in mind rather than romantic love. The picture is a harbinger of spring poem. There is hope for all those snowbound that spring will burtst forth from within us and externally. The picture is like a poem and a metaphor for hope. So instead of dwelling on the snow storms, think about your internal spring that will come forth like a butterfly, but only if you let it. The butterflies floating around her head was inspired by Alexander Mc Queen's Butterfly Hat, which I saw in a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. ( you can read my blog article about McQueen's use of death imagery here: Symbols of Death, Birth and Renewal in the Art of Alexander McQueen which also talks about the importance of the color lilac, used in these paintings!!)
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The woman in the purple dress in the second painting is surrounded and also made of flowers. The title alludes to the Carpe Diem poem by Robert Herrick's To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, which begs readers to live life to its full potential, singing of the fleeting nature of life itself:

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

You might also remember this poem as the opening in the Robin Williams movie, The Dead Poets' Society where Williams plays a charismatic teacher who inspires his charges to live passionately.

What do you think of these poems? Do they inspire you to live life to the fullest too?