Thursday, February 18, 2010
Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Haiti, Terry Nelson
Acrylic on 11" x 18" clay panel.
I painted the image after a 17th century Sicilian 'icon' from the Vatican Museum. The original prototype is known as Madonna Siciliana painted in Italo-Greco style; the Byzantine influence due to Albanian immigrants in Sicily fleeing the invasion of the Ottoman at the end of the 15th century. The dark attributes of the Virgin is not an uncommon characteristic in Sicilian art. The "black" Madonnas also refer to the verse from the Song of Songs, usually attributed to Our Lady, "I am black but beautiful..."
I adapted the image in memory of the victims of the Haitian earthquake. I chose an antique ornamental Mexican clay plaque I found at a tag sale to carry the image. The clay tablet held a tin Mexican retablo I later removed and re-framed - it had not been original to the piece. Much of the gold leaf, bole, and gesso was removed as well. I left the deterioration as is, applied a thin gesso coating in the exact shape of the figures, and painted the image as seen here - leaving the deterioration as a sort of testament to the poverty and destruction Haitians have experienced through time. The traditional figures of souls in the flames of purgatory suggest the ongoing suffering Haitians are enduring in the aftermath of the quake. The holy Virgin being their refuge and hope.
It is one of the rare paintings I have done wherein the Blessed Virgin communicated something to me. Something I cannot express but is revealed in her smile amidst adversity. Our Lady did this to me in only one other icon I attempted to make of her, and that was the Mother of Perpetual Help icon I made several years ago for a church near St. Cloud, Minnesota.
Note: Click on the image for greater detail.
Monday, February 15, 2010
"Baroque: Acrylic Skin" - T. Nelson
Acrylic impression on paper napkin.
Narrative: While painting I often use the back of my left hand as a palette, mixing colours, thinning the brush load, and so on. The layers make an exact impression of my skin texture and can be peeled off to form thin veils, or paintings without canvas or structure. In this case we see the skin tones of my "Black Madonna" painting, randomly formed into a leaf impression. By clicking on the image you may see the actual texture of my skin. Notice as well an eyebrow hair on the napkin.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
"When Jim died" - Terry Nelson
11 x 14 acrylic on clay board in tin Mexican nicho.
I did this retablo/ex-voto quickly, in memorial of my friend Jim, who had died suddenly several years ago. I was asked for another piece to exhibit in a gallery show I was participating in. The panel had been started awhile back and set aside, so I decided to finish it in a hurry the night before installation.
Jim was part of my "group" - several friends who have remained friends since high school. Jim was the first of us to die, and it was very hard to take since he was still in his 30's. He always seemed like an angel to me. Friends told me he died from an asthma attack during the night. I had lost close contact with him after I returned to the Church in 1972 - he had become involved with Mid-Eastern spirituality and rejected Catholic teaching - and me for awhile. Later on when we did see one another we continued to have great fun - he was very funny, an accomplished classical musician as well as an artist, and a huge fan of the Beatles and The Who. Jim was going to marry a friend of ours until he realized another attraction in his life.
The painting is crude and a part of my retablo/ex-voto collection... rotting in the basement. The plumber seems to enjoy them.