A couple months ago, I read in The New York Times about an installation by artist Sophie Calle on view at an upper east side Manhattan church, a sacred location for artwork created as a eulogy in honor of the artist’s deceased mother. The woman named Rachel selected the inscription, “I’m bored already,” for her own tombstone. She also left parting words to those gathered around her at the end: “Ne vous fruites pas de souci.” This translates to English as “don’t worry."
Concurrently, I had been playing around with a new mixed media piece, mounting and altering a battered painting by an unknown artist I confiscated from the trash. The curious "outsider art” beckoned to be re-purposed. After taking away and adding bits, I stenciled the pinwheel form that called out for Rachel’s words.
What is more human than worry? After all, there is no shortage of things to fret over–the mind can’t help itself. Worry does not seem to improve problematic situations. Or does it? Maybe the ongoing thought about the hows and whys may lead us to uncover conclusions and solutions otherwise hidden.
Spoken words offered before or after a last breath connect to the mystery of life. I am now reminded that after reading Mona Simpson’s memoir about her half-brother, Steve Jobs, I painted his parting words…
My “Do Not Worry” painting has me wondering about famous last words.
A bit of research has turned up a few good ones…
Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
Oscar Wilde Writer, 1900
Get my swan costume ready.
Anna Pavlova, Ballerina, 1931
Nothing matters. Nothing matters.
Louis B. Mayer, Film Producer, 1957
Why not? Yeah.
Timothy Leary, Professor, 1996
I must go in, the fog is rising.
Emily Dickinson, Poet, 1886
Love one another.
George Harrison, Musician, 2001
I hope the exit is joyful and hope to never come back.
Frida Kahlo, Artist, 1954
You see, this is how you die.
Coco Chanel, 1971
What is the answer? In that case, what is the question?
Gertrude Stein, Writer, 1946
Sometimes the need for words dissolves. Musician Lou Reed left us last year with only his gesturing hands practicing the “water-flowing 21-form” of Tai-Chi.
#lastwords, #art #patpendleton