Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Greater Light

Homes have names around here, like Windswept and Tucked Away. But I didn't realize this when our professor kept telling us last summer that we were going to Greater Light. I thought maybe it was a lighthouse or something and didn't expect it to be the inspiring summer home of two eccentric sisters from the 1930s.

I found the story of the Monaghan Sisters pretty awesome. Gertrude and Hanna, Quakers from Philadelphia, came to Nantucket as part of a growing artist's colony between the two world wars. Back home, Gertrude was a professional muralist, painting walls of department stores, and Hanna was an accomplished actress and author. The two, ten years apart, originally rented a small studio near the harbor, until 1929 when they followed a heard of cows to a dilapidated barn. They purchased the building from the grocer and transformed the structure into their new home and studio, adorning the rooms with their collection of things, "including twelve-foot-high wrought-iron gates, Italian gilded columns, decorative church windows, and exotic adornments from around the globe. Natural scavengers with means, they took every opportunity to acquire eclectic furnishings for their new temple to the arts."via

This is what the great room looked like when the Nantucket Historical Association acquired the property. To me it looks like it could have come right out the pages of an Ikea catalogue. It looks like a room where I'd like to hang out, and from the sounds of it, the people would be like minded too.

I felt inclined to visit again, with hopes of finding an idea for this week's assignment: an abstract painting, or series, inspired by Nantucket. 

I came away with two quotes, two big ideas that are now the driving force behind my concept.

From Hanna's memoir, Greater Light on Nantucket.

Time is but a limited view of reality. The moment we call today, and the moment we call yesterday seem very close together. And now... a question arises with in me: 'Is it only what we see, chairs and rugs and tables which pass out in time or is there something enduring which lasts beyond the broken chair, the worn out rug, as a symbol of our love, as a part of the eternal love...?'

The sisters also believed in something they called "divine mind:" a providential tendency of the universe to fashion perfectly timed coincidences.

Like how I wound up on Nantucket. Twice.
Like how we're buying a house (oh yea, we're buying a house, surprise)
Like how those wrought- iron gates the sisters had waiting in storage for the right moment, were the exact same height as the roof over the patio at Greater Light. They just fit.

So where do these ideas take me?

To me, at this moment, it becomes a question of how to preserve that love...that feeling, that something that makes you feel.

It becomes a question of 

That evoke a memory,
                     a feeling

I am incorporating nautical symbols, inspired by scrimshaw and tattoos, with landscapes from various vantage points, and color, color, color. To capture the "revelatory qualities" of what I see and feel. 

Its all about the Greater Light on Nantucket.  

1 comment:

  1. That series is beautiful, but wondering ~ are you finished with the bird one? Hoping not, as it's longing for completion like the other two IMO.