I like this style, where it's as if things are collaged, though they're painted? Bird cages and ships and doll houses, swaths and patches of color. Like the idea that a person (like a memory) is an amalgamation of objects, events, fantasies, terrors: if we were paying attention when we met one another, we might see others like this.
Another discovery is the artwork of Gina Litherland:
"My first source of inspiration is the natural world; animals, particularly foxes, opossums, raccoons, birds and insects, cats; I owe the greatest debt to them because they've shown me so much; a certain keenness of perception, an ability to act spontaneously and appropriately to a given situation, an ability to remain hidden for personal protection. There is a great deal to be learned from studying other animals; Lao Tzu would say they are in perfect harmony.
"As a child, I read the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and Lewis Carroll. I continue to read them to this day. Jack Zipes compiled a collection of Little Red Riding Hood stories called The Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood with an excellent introduction tracing the history of the story. This book was an important source for the Red Riding Hood painting [What Path Are You Taking, The Path of Needles or the Path of Pins?] along with some of Zipes' other books that explore the subversive qualities of fairy tales. Angela Carter's work, particularly her collection of fairy tales, The Bloody Chamber, has been a great inspiration. In the story, "The Company of Wolves", all of the European anxiety toward sexuality, female curiosity, and the voraciousness of nature expressed in the traditional Red Riding Hood tale is turned on its head. The story becomes an animal bridegroom tale as Red Riding Hood becomes wolf-like and lies peacefully "between the paws of the tender wolf." The animal bridegroom tale is more common in the folklore of indigenous cultures, for example, it occurs frequently in Inuit folktales; there is no boundary between humans and other animals. In the Lakota language there is no separate word for animal; there are two-legged persons and four-legged persons.
Gershom Scholem's books, Kabbalah, and Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition, were important sources for another subversive, mythic persona, Lilith. I would also mention W. Y. Evans-Wentz's The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries."
"Jack of Diamonds"
"I've played cards in England and I've gambled in Spain
I'm going back to Rhode Island gonna play my last game
Jack of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds,
I know you from old
You have robbed my poor pockets of silver and gold
Well, if the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck
I'd dive to the bottom and drink myself up
But the ocean ain't whiskey and I ain't no duck
I'll play that Jack of Diamonds and I'll trust to my luck
I eat when I'm hungry and I drink when I'm dry
If I get feeling much higher I'm gonna sprout wings and fly
Jack of Diamonds, Jack of Diamonds,
I know you from old
You have robbed my poor pockets of silver and gold."
Litherland says she was thinking of this song, of somehow bringing the face of the Jack of Diamonds-- a man she claims to know well herself, the man representing the force of one's desires, of seduction--together with the character of the Trickster, when she painted the above image. Here he controls the man and woman; they are merely puppets, dancing to his will. As she says, "They're dancing to his tune," pulled by the string attached to his tapping foot. He carries on his belt the potions and tools of "quack doctors."
("QUACKS," the letter Q from an illustrated--by Gina-- book on the history of the diagnosis of hysteria, demonic possession, and a "need" for genital mutilation, called "The Hysterical Alphabet")
"I have always been interested in the interplay between myth, the natural world, and the domain of dreams and memory. As a child, I spent many hours exploring natural wooded areas and empty lots inhabited by multitudes of insects and wildlife. This, along with a fervent interest in reading, particularly fairy tales, laid the foundation for my current investigations as an artist. Much of my work is inspired by folklore, myth, and literature reflected in my own personal preoccupations, specifically themes of desire, femaleness, the natural world, the human/animal boundary, children's games, ritual, intuition, and memory. "
Mary Louise Schumacher describes Litherland's technique:"With a Max Ernst-inspired complication, she presses various textures, such as plastic wrap, paper or leaves, into loose pools of paint on her canvases, and then paints back into and over the works. The technique, called decalcomania, is done repeatedly, working layer over layer, which gives her oil paintings a visual depth and finespun quality."
This method allows for accidental images to drive the work as well as the age-old subconscious symbolisms brought to our attention in myths...
"I have been interested in hermetic philosophy for a long time, so it's very much ingrained in my psyche and how I view the world. I particularly like Marsilio Ficino's ideas of magically linking the properties of celestial beings or planetary influences with various herbs, stones, trees, and aromatics. It is a way of imaginatively ordering the universe and has a poetic logic to it. There is little doubt that aromatics, colors, sounds, and plants have specific effects on the psyche and consequently on the physical body. Chinese and Tibetan medicine has retained some of these theories of linking the imagination, the mind and the body. I am also intrigued with Giordano Bruno's memory theater [NOTE:an excellent explanation of this is available here:http://www.synaptic.ch/infoliths/textes/arsmem.htm] , the writings of Paracelsus, and the alchemical allegories, which I find incredibly beautiful. The recurrent image of the hermaphroditic figure, connects to Breton's writings of the reconciliation of opposites, and Lao Tzu's idea that, 'when male and female combine, all things achieve harmony.'
The tree painting (Habitation) that was in the Wisconsin Triennial was directly inspired by a tree outside our house which has, since it died, become a haven for woodpeckers, squirrels, insects and all sorts of arboreal creatures. I wanted to show a world completely devoid of human beings, nothing left but a bit of their junk, which the animals are now happily using for their own pleasure."
"Many of us still feel a sense of wonder at the pure creative spirit of wildness that animals reflect. In painting animals not as we see them retinally but as we see them psychically, we make talismans of wilderness, of howling, of flying, of leaping, of dancing, of silence. We remember that we have not always been in a world that values things only for their "usefulness," but that we once were, and still are, a part of a world that rejoices in its own being, in the rising of the moon, in the reverberating sound of its own ecstatic voice.
In painting, dancing, singing, howling, chirping, and squawking we reforest the Earth with arboreal dreams of liberation for all species of all worlds--of those we can see and hear, and of those we can wildly imagine."