“The lines between us blur
As time ticks you away from me,
ever pulling upward
against the pride of my gravity.
My nurturing pins you down.
Gravity fills out,
Spreads across the rocks like a mist.
Your nature pulls upward
Reckless yet natural.
Hold heavy and true
as this chase begins and ends in my arms.”
As we age, our roles in life change, and the people we have within arms reach changes. Sometimes we are close, and wanting distance, like a child wanting to leave home. Sometimes we are distant and longing for closeness again, like an empty nester wanting to have her children back home. As a parent, we are constantly seeking connection and meaning as they grow. Sometimes they are in the mood for us and sometimes they are not, and so begins the delicate dance of the parent/child relationship.
I started this painting on a day I felt particularly rejected as a mother. For as high as my pride and love goes up, it can also come down and make me feel defeated, and really at odds with my little people. The steadfastness of my motherly love never changes, but the everyday dance of expectation, joy, pride, connection, and basic “am I doing this right?” sensation is there. I wouldn’t say that they are always conflicting but there is a tension between them that exists, a whole myriad of complex emotions when it comes to being a parent.
When I was a child, the parent/child tension was more one directional. It was simply about wanting to have the chance to prove myself in the world. I remember the days where I couldn’t wait to “get outta dodge”. I even remember writing a song called “Drink the Day” which I sang to a thousand people or so at my high school graduation. It was about exactly that, venturing out and shaking the yoke of my own parents, wanting to go out and prove myself!
Now that I am on the other side, trying to soften every blow for my babies, I realize that this is a timeless dance of the human condition. Kids are always going to want to do it “their way” and parents are always going to want to show them “the way”. The intent is to protect them and give them an easier life, a less bumpy ride. I believe it is out of deeply anchored love. It is no less passionate being a mother versus being the angsty teen. The tension of the dance is there and I feel it. I feel it on both sides because I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday. I brought this feeling into the painting in an attempt to express it in visual form.
The implied diagonal going from kind of the center of the image and out to the top right signifies a timeline of tension between parent and child. The negative space that the form makes is a symbol of the space between a parent and child. The world created by having the framework of these two entities. I have it going back in space and resembling a blossoming flower because that is how I see time in this instance. It is kind of overlapping and constantly blooming in different beautiful ways. It is not linear, it is much more of an organic overlapping growing process.
The main zigzag, claw like shape coming up is meant to show dissonance and I even played around with pushing the form from very flat/2D to some 3D. I wanted there to be confusion in how the shapes are interacting to reflect the confusion of the parent/child dance. There is not meant to be ugliness per se, but I definitely wanted to infuse it with a difficult feeling. I added some jagged edges and some edges echoing other edges. I would say it illustrates cultural dissonance between parent/child, meaning how the parent wants the child to live and then how the child will just live their own life regardless!
After following this idea to conclusion, I decided to open it up as a series called “Nestling”. The main reason I decided to do this is because as I look at this finished painting I realize that I am not done with the idea. I am really excited to explore all the feelings associated with this particular dynamic.