Yesterday was Ash Wednesday and so begins Lent. Growing up, I was quite unaware of Lenten exercises save that of the Catholics giving up meat on Friday's in exchange of fish. This made no sense to me and was simply explained as "something Catholics did."
This was not a satisfactory answer for my young mind. I continued to wonder why they did this. In my spiritual immaturity (have a become mature even know?) it seemed like a silly thing to do. Though I now see this was likely also colored heavily by my Protestant/Evangelical upbringing. In addition to fish, some gave up Coke, others ice cream, and so on with a list of dietary options. What I failed to understand then, as I wonder today if many still do, is that the practice of giving something up, is that you may fill your life with something else, focussed on the things of God. So, say trading TV between 7-9 pm for reading theology, scripture, praying, journalling etc. The Lenten exercises are to focus not exclusively on subtraction but upon addition (look at that...math talk from an artist!).
This year, as I have a number of times in the past, my Lenten addition is praying the hours as found in Phyllis Tickle's Eastertide. The hours include 4 prayers each day (morning, noon, early evening, and before bed). Tickle infuses the prayers with standard collects from the liturgy, lots of Psalms and Gospel readings. It is a good place to begin with prayer of the hours. These prayers are extracted from the larger 4 volume set that runs according to the seasons. I would highly recommend them all.
Victorian String Art II
The other day I posted a similar string object. This one is about 2.5 times larger than the other and is in better condition. While this one is larger, it is still a similar but more hardy construction. This one also has pins with a significant white head on the star points to hold the threads in place. I was curious about how old the piece is so slid the now stiff threads aside and considerable fading has occurred to the piece. So I know that it is old...just not how old.
When preparing for the MFA exhibition, I was purchasing large photo lots from EBay to fill out the installation pieces. When I would get the lots I would skim through them looking for interesting photos, themes, etc that I would eventually hold back for my own collection. I found this interesting piece on one of those large lots. I've titled this posting "Vintage Photoshopping" as a joke, but there is some photographic trickery going on within the image. My hunch is that this is photographic object is really the combination of 3 different photographs cut and rephotographed and printed.
There are several clues...First, check out the infant...its placement within the photo, the strange highlight on its left side and how the dress is cut on the infants right side all suggest that this is a later addition to the photographs of the couple beneath. Second, I suspect that the images of the couple beneath are really 2 images rather than one. She appears to far forward compared to him. Also, I suspect the images come from different times based on the dress of the two...though I cannot be sure on this. And would these two even be a couple? She appears much younger than him. But there is also something amiss with the lighting...notice how in the center of the image, it is much darker, likely the cause of a little darkroom dodging and burning. Lastly, notice the shadow created from the yellowed photographic object on my whiter background. Now look within the photograph itself. To me, I see a similar shadow burned into the image below the child and in the upper left corner.
To me, all of these little peculiarities seem to add up to a touched up photo that combines multiple objects taken at different times. But why might someone have such a photo made? Could the photo have been made by the gentleman for the child after the mother had passed away? There could have been some years between which might give some reason for the disparity of age and clothing. But alas we do not know.
Victorian String Art
Over Christmas break on our trip to California, we spent a day up around Sonora. We hit a few antique stores and I happened upon this little hand-made piece. From what I can gather it falls under Victorian string art. It is roughly a star-shaped piece of cardboard with a photo affixed and wound in in some kind of thread. I am guessing that by the kinks in the thread extending above the piece, it was further wound but has become undone. The second photo shows the complexity of the string winding.
While I really dont know much about this type of art yet (as in how it was used etc.), I have found another similar piece which I will post in a few days.