Sunday, January 11, 2009

transparent beauty

I went to see Ana Maria Hernando at her studio in Boulder. My mother-in-love took me along and I am so grateful that I relented, lifted my dragging heels and went. Ana Maria is working on an installation for the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, essentially a mountain of colorful Peruvian petticoats. What struck me the most was the way that she talked about her work. She talked about flowers, doilies and woman's work... how the beauty of a woman's effort becomes a transparent backdrop to life.
Women wash dishes, embroider towels, clean sheets, scrub floors, quilt blankets, mend clothes, care for children and fathers and husbands...
while the love and effort that goes into each endeavor is transparent, fleeting...
like a flower briefly blooming and fading away...
like a brilliantly embroidered cloth quickly stained and torn by use...
like lace doilies, or hankies or hand crocheted petticoats.
Woman's work, transparently beautiful, so often unseen.

Our conversation made me think...it made me feel, to reach down into the quiet abyss of longing and it made me see. I looked into the mirror at the fleeting face staring back, aging, transparently beautiful, given briefly to the world and stained by time, by sorrow, by use. I long to hear her voice, my woman voice, uniquely mine with something to say. I long to acknowledge her beauty before her bloom fades and is gone. And yet I realize that it is the backdrop, providing an unseen context to the composition of a life.

Please go see her work at the MCA in February or click here to see it online.

2 comments:

C.S. Perry said...

There's a tremendously good short-story called "Everyday Use" by Alice Walker that gives us the other side of this coin and presents a beauty all it's own.
Beauty may be fleeting but perhaps its ephemeral nature is the very thing that makes it beautiful in the first place.
But then...I'm only a man and , therefore, I probably have no sense of what Beauty really is.
(Unless, of course, we want to put any stock in what that bastard Keats had to say about it.)

Angelina said...

Yes, I agree, perhaps the fleeting, ephemeral nature of a thing, is an essential component of beauty...the backdrop...the transparency...and yet our culture acknowledges overt beauty...youth, "perfection", wealth and it's accoutrements. Transparent beauty is often overlooked, blooming before blind eyes. Yet, the beauty of a well worn face, a woven woolen shawl, a carefully prepared meal, surpasses the beauty of a botox-ed, mass produced, foil wrapped world.