Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mothers' Day Remembrance

All Clear
7.5" x 9.5" colored pencil drawing and digital painting (Adobe Photoshop CS5.5)

We lived in a one-room tenement flat on the lower East Side of New York. I was naked, as very naked as three-year-olds can often be. There was a knock at the door -- a couple of Ma's lady friends from work were paying an unexpected visit! Quickly, she had me scramble under the sofa bed. When they had gone, she gave me the all clear. It would not be the last time in my life that Ma kept my butt covered.

10/13/2014 update: As this digital painting “All Clear” is one of my autobiographical series, on reflection I wanted to add an afterthought about it:

I initially dedicated this painting on Mothers’ Day of 2014. It's based on a happy memory of my toddler years. It's also meant to be iconic of the caring of motherhood. For me personally there were actually as many bad childhood memories as good ones, if not more. In a way, as an adult I sense a bitter-sweetness to this one that was more subliminal than conscious at the time I composed it.

While acknowledging the fact that the culture, social values, environment and sense of propriety in 1956 were different from today’s, it was also a fact that the element of shame was a common thread in our family. The “shadow” side to this incident was implicit shame of public nakedness of the human body – my body – that had to be hidden from the outside world. This feeling was what can be termed a “carried feeling” – a feeling not originating with me, but my mother’s feeling transmitted to me. She was 37-years-old, I was 3. Both of us needed me to hide under the bed until it was “all clear”.

Suffice it to say for the moment that carried feelings transmitted to us as children may often impact us well into adulthood.