member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life


This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo


(Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Keewaydinoquay

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
--Arthur C. Clarke


Keewaydinoquay


Keewaydinoquay transforms plants into a healing energy under the blanket of night during the blueberry moon...
The plants are flowering tobacco, a heavily-used plant source for her people; before going to pick plants for medicinal use, the Anishinaabe would make an offering of tobacco. This offering was made because the person was asking the plant for assistance, and the plant was to be treated as any other living being--human, animal, or spirit--when it was being asked for its services. Keewaydinoquay (walks-with-bears) got her name from an incident involving two very large bears as a toddler while her parents were picking blueberries (In her culture, each month names its moon for something important from that month; in this case, it was the blueberry harvest.). They had left her in a hammock in a tree, but when they came back, she had somehow gotten herself down, and was walking in between the bears, holding onto each by their fur in order to keep herself upright. She later became a medicine woman and ethno-botanist.
When I first started the painting, there were two simple vials, one in each hand. the lunar dew (blueberry-flavored) and the green and gold of the tobacco dripped into the bottom of one vial, mixed together, and traveled up a tube into the other vial, where it formed a larger petal-leaf that then shaped itself into a bird. Then i decided to make the one vial reach up for the blooms, so that no part of the process was not alive--so the other vial's opening also became a hand, gently (sadly?) relinquishing its grip on the transformed spirit that would now leave for parts unknown. Because part of the process of healing is letting go of the thing that is toxic to you, which is something we're not always willing (or completely able, without help) to do.

Here is a quote from Ovid, helpfully supplied by Goat, which relates a similar process of transformation, Daphne's metamorphosis into a laurel to escape an attempted rape-- this would underline the idea that above, she is somehow fusing with the plants which then become the birds, healing herself, or simply putting her own spirit fully into the healing process of her patient...:

"prayer barely out, heavy numbness seizes
limbs, soft breasts enclose in bark, hair
in leaf, arms branch, feet (so swift)
root; head, a tree-top"
--Ovid

This painting was my contribution for Ada Lovelace Day (March 24th), which honors women in technology, and was first posted here.

8 comments:

  1. A lovely tribute! As always, I love to follow your stream of reason through a composition... it's always interesting the way you bring things together to form an image. And, I love those shades of green and blue together.
    The story of a little girl standing between bears seemed familiar, so I did a little reading about Keewaydinoquay. Thanks!

    edit: I didn't think that those word verificaton programmes actually made real words... but mine said 'cursed' just now as I tried to post this. Yikes!

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  2. Women and nature. And magic. Since the Ancient Times, women are the priestesses of nature. In their, the miracle of Life renews itself. They are magic. And they have hold the secret of the natural medicine for long time. Your painting is alive. Keewaydinoquay is a woman walking through the plants and, at the same time, she is an alchimist. She has life in her hands and the moon itself seems alive. The birds themselves seems accompaning her. I would say that Keewaydinoquay is like a "nympha", as the Ancient Latins would say.:)
    Medicine like magic. Your painting is involving, magic, and makes me thing to all the women considered like witches just because they were depositaries of the secret of the medical herbs.

    Inspirational portrait, Zoe. A poet could write a poem just watching at it, a musician an overture.

    Thanks for sharing your art and your vision of the world with us. :)

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  3. jodi: thank you! i'm glad the colors appeal to you. that story about the bears was really something, i don't know that i would have survived seeing a small child holding herself up that way!
    don't worry about your verification, i anti-cursed it :D

    rosa: what generous words! hopefully, we can relearn that powerful knowledge because of people like her that were so careful to record it even when it was being ignored by the majority...

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  4. I really love the blueberry moon. I love everything about this painting, it is so beautiful.
    Is it on sale? How much?:))

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing these really lovely painting and story!! I didn't know about Keewaydinoquay and the Anishinaabe so I've learned much from you. Her relationship with plants reminds me of Luther Burbank and his plants and also of Edward Bach and his flowers. <the process of healing is letting go of the thing that is toxic to you, which is something we're not always willing (or completely able, without help) to do> Oh I'd think that's exactly right!! "the blueberry moon" What a fascinating moon!! Love it!

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  6. How lovely to see this again. She's an inspiration in her quest to heal I can learn from her myself. Magical as always and always wise!

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  7. Zoe, this is a fantastic painting and a wonderful piece of writing -- a great tribute to the spirit of Finding Ada Day! Many thanks....

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  8. So beautiful, Zoe, your painting radiates magic with such shades of green and blue and an interesting story behind!

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