Friday, October 30, 2009
The Big Picture
(more on St. Rita of Cascia, patron saint of impossible dreams)
This is the biggest drawing I have made, 18 inches by 24. I am working also on a color version, but I'm not happy with it yet :)
There are many details that make the fig tree a good companion for a saint. First of all, that it will grow out of rock, like an orchid, only gigantic; that it could even grow out of the "ruins" of our civilization.
It is now believed that fig trees were the first plant species to be bred for food, some 11,000 years ago in the Middle East--several hundred years before wheat cultivation began. Because its wood is terribly difficult to chop down and provides nothing of interest to our markets, its existence in places like Queensland's national and state parks has saved those areas, and their other trees, from logging. The roses shown here are Alain Blanchard, from the species "Rosa gallica," which, according to Wikipedia, is one of the earliest cultivated species of roses.
As you might recall from my last post on St. Rita, one of her miraculous aspects was her ability to acquire a fig and a rose from a favorite garden in the dead of winter simply by wishing it so. Here, her presence has caused both to bloom from the same fig tree. After all, many things come from a fig tree: according to legend, underneath it, Buddha found enlightenment, and from between its roots sprung the Sarasvati* river; according to a NASA clean air study, the weeping fig also produces clean air, processing out our nasty pollutants--bringing us back full circle in this post and in the world, with new life forming from our ruins--by way of the fig tree.
You can see if you zoom in that as she sits in the curve of the tree trunk, it's as if she's pushing the bark outwards in waves--that is how I imagine it looks when reality "shifts" to allow an impossibility new space in the world. Being a saint, she lets the bird take the fig.
*note: The Sarasvati River was originally personified in the Hindu religion as Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, though through time, she developed into a separate entity. It is a very special river in ancient Hindu texts.