|Scene of a Fantasmagoria, 1885. |
By Arthur Pougin [Public Domain]
via Wikimedia Commons
|Buckminster Fuller's Montreal Biosphère, 1967|
Attribution: Cédric THÉVENET [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0],
via Wikimedia Commons
|Golden Gate Bridge reflected in a soap bubble! Now imagine|
standing inside the bubble seeing all those shifting colors
as the bubble floats. Sound awesome? Seriously, go and look
at the pictures of the installation. Your mind will go boom.
Attribution: I, Brocken Inaglory [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0
or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Mira Nussbaum's silk paintings echo the radiant color spectrum of Saraceno's installation in a much more personal way. Her paintings transform stained glass into a softness, combining the translucency of windowpanes and the compelling physicality of silk. I was lucky enough to visit her house a while back, and saw there a number of paintings she had made for friends and loved ones. She drew intricate interpretations of their life stories and spiritual journeys, illuminated them in brilliant color, and mounted them on lightboxes. The mutable, watercolor luminance of her works is very much akin to the soap-bubble light of Poetic Cosmos, only in this case each wash of color has a narrative behind it. Nussbaum is a cook and a landscaper, among other things, with a serious investment in permaculture, plant knowledge, and wildcrafting skills. Her preoccupations with land, growth, sustainability, and fertility are evident in her paintings, which are full of a vivid and abundant natural life growing and swirling over the panels. Silk, that most fluid of fabrics, is the perfect material for an artwork that seems simultaneously to be glass and watercolor, translucent and shimmering. You can see (you should see!) an album of her work, including some amazing process photos, here. And for twenty bucks you can buy a book full of absolutely glowing pictures of her work, a kind of modern illuminated manuscript. If you're broke or just want to feast your eyes, the full preview, including dozens (hundreds?) of pictures of her pieces, is available here. The book is called Silk Stories: Visual Treasures for Your Body, Your Wall, Your Soul, and it is most definitely an accurate title.
Why share these works? First of all, because they are unusually splendid and spectacular. Second, because they are inspiring: both Nussbaum and Saraceno are thinking about fairly ordinary materials in fairly extraordinary ways. And finally, of course, because their work speaks about joy - joy in color, the dance of the jeweled spectrum, color like a river or a sea, holy and mutable, poetic and transformative.