A Unique Experiment . . .

Boobalala” breast print art by Anne Copeland

Before we talk about Halloween in another post, let’s look at how Boobalala came to be. I think it was my 65th birthday. I had seen this really fascinating and wonderful art exhibit at a gallery or museum somewhere. I think it was a museum because it was huge. This male artist whose name I unfortunately cannot remember was fascinated with things about his body, and also with taking everyday things and making them look very different in such a way that you could no longer recognize them for what they actually were. In one of his pieces, he laid in a bathtub while a friend slowly poured colored water over him, taking photos of each addition and what was still exposed. He cut up the photos into many parts and rearranged them in fascinating ways that made us wonder what we were looking at even though we had been told. I was fascinated with the exhibit because I have often thought of many natural things and wondered what they looked like from a different perspective. I remember specifically as a child how I used to lie flat in the grass and look through the blades of grass to try to understand what the ants and other bugs’ lives looked like from their perspective. It was almost like being Alice in Wonderland, for it was a truly different world, and I could absolutely lose myself in it.

At any rate, when my 65th birthday came about, I was wondering about such different ways of viewing things we encounter every day. Somehow this is the sequence of things and what happened on that day. I decided to put on some African music from a primitive tribe and I got naked. I began to dance to the music to try to get my mind in the minds of those peoples and what they were experiencing. And then suddenly my mind turned to art, and I decided to find out what my breasts looked like from another angle. So I got out a length of black cotton, painted my breasts with white paint, and made breast prints with these things. I was really surprised that if most people would never know what it was if I didn’t tell them.

Next I decided to try multi-color paint (these were acrylics that could wash off easily) so I got out some white cotton, and painted my breasts with several colors, once again pressing them against the cotton to make breast prints. Amazing! Though they still did not look at all like breasts, they made truly interesting prints.

One ended up a part of a quilt I made called “My Garden of Earthly Delights” and it was donated to the Autism organization since I worked with special needs children for many years and to this day I am a strong advocate for them. This picture is shown below.

“My Garden of Earthly Delights” by Anne Copeland.

Now I really wonder if any of you who didn’t know this story would honestly recognize these as breast prints, or perhaps think them as disgusting. The quilt went to a good cause and I was thrilled to donate it because I imagine that someone somewhere is enjoying this happy quilt with no clue as to its history.

Both these quilts had the same beginnings, with no thoughts of being a disgusting person trying to shock others. It was curiosity about what I am made of, and what it looks like. I have not yet done other parts of my body, but the day may come when I do. These same body parts heralded my change into a young woman, and later on they gave milk for my children at a time when few women were still feeding their babies in this most natural of ways. It is part of what I am made of as a human being, and it is an important and natural part of every woman. It is a good and healthy thing to re-examine things we take for granted every single day. I am glad I celebrated this fact in such an enjoyable and artful way. I actually made “My Garden of Earthly Delights” first, followed by “Boobalala.”

Perhaps this bit of experiment into another aspect of my world is not earth-shaking, but I am glad I did it. Our lives are made of many things we take for granted every single day. I think that studying these things can enhance our ability to see better the universe that we also take so much for granted. Perhaps in seeing things differently, we will somehow be able to re-examine our beliefs about everything that we encounter each and every day. Thank you and Happy Autumn.

Art Exhibit – Part II

So now you have seen Part I, and I want to let you know that I am quite prolific with speaking what is in my heart and the compass of my soul.  So Part II will show you some more things I have created, and you might question their designation as “art.”  I want you to know that as an artist, I define what is MY art and what it will chose to be at any given time in my life according to how I am envisioning life at that particular time.  I like the freedom to celebrate life in the many ways I choose to celebrate it.  When I turned 65, I decided to do something different for my special day.  I had put on some African music which I liked very much, and I was thinking of how the people paint their bodies to signify something that is very meaningful to them, so I got out some black cloth, and being all alone, stripped and painted my breasts white.  I pressed them to the cloth.  We know ourselves in one way, or perhaps two, but there are things and ways of ourselves that we have never observed.  So when I looked at the cloth I had created, I was, to say the least, surprised, for whoever would ever know that this was what a breast looked like on cloth.  Here are a couple of pieces that came from this wonderful experiment in which I learned to see myself in a whole new way.  This process never ends, for there is always something new to learn, and as we change over the many years, so do our bodies and minds.  Each part becomes a special art exhibit all of its own.

Boobalala

Boobalala by Anne Copeland – Paint and Fiber

 

Annies boob quilt for autism charity - My garden of Earthly Delights

My Garden of Earthly Delights” by Anne – Paint and Fiber

This quilt is about 18″ x 20″ and it features the breast prints in multicolors, which was a lot more fun and challenging than just doing white.  And to think, I still have more body parts to color and experiment with.  Who knows what this will ultimately lead to.  I am certainly not the first person to experiment with painting body parts, but I did this my way and without any lessons either.  The frog is painted separately.

Oh, and this was a charity quilt I decided to make for Art for Autism, since I have been very involved for many years with autistic and other special needs children. For those of you who might recoil in horror, there is nothing ugly or wierd about our breasts.  I fed all my children with mine, lived through breast cancer, and now that I have passed three quarters of a life (age 77), I am glad to be able to still have those breasts.  For me, they are no different than having teeth, hair, armpits, or feet or a backside. Does a tree hide its branches in shame?

So this is Art Exhibit Part II.  We will look at some other ideas in different “exhibits” I get to curate and write about.  It’s my show.  See you at the next one.

Summoning Forth the Boogeyman

 

Boobalala

The Boogeyman is something I think most of us can relate to.  At some point in our childlife, something bit us in the bum, or some other crazy thing like that, and we would get up and start looking under our beds, in the closet, and any other potential place where the Boogeyman might be hiding before we could go to sleep.  Oh, the fear, the tingling, creepy fear.  And yet, night after night, we would go through this ritual before drifting off to sleep.  Was he there?  (Notice that the Boogeyman was always a “he” whether you were a girl or a boy.) And if he was there, what on earth would help us to protect ourselves, or to make him go away? In the end result, it wasn’t about any of this.  It was just about making sure he wasn’t there.  There were probably as many, if not more, nights when we didn’t think about the Boogeyman.  We would climb into our beds, pull the covers up, and drift off to sleep without a worry in the world.

Perhaps the Boogeyman was our way of empowering ourselves over things which we had little or no control.  We were the ones who summoned the Boogeyman, and we were the ones who assured ourselves that he was not going to hurt us. And each time we grew more confident until one day we went to sleep, knowing that the boogeyman was not going to ever hurt us.

Interestingly, in our adult lives, although we had stopped summoning our Boogeymen, instead we began to summon forth our inner demons.  Little by little we called for the Boogeymen to view our accomplishments in life, our creativity, telling us how lame or how otherwise terrible it was. We subject ourselves to endless fears and insecurities about what we so until I honestly think a visit from the Boogeyman would be a welcome relief.

We no longer put our Boogeymen to bed, but keep them out so that we can summon them any time of the day or night. They no longer have to hide under our beds or in our closets. They can appear in full daylight and their power over us is more terrifying than any Boogeyman we ever envisioned. The boogieman was all alone. We could dispatch him pretty quickly and go to sleep feeling as though everything was right in the world. But the demons summon more and more friends until we are absolutely overwhelmed, and there is absolutely no dismissing them. They are fearful even when we are very familiar with them.

Is it any wonder we get depressed when the boogieman no longer is confined to just beneath the bed and in the closet, but fills our everywhere and with not just one, but many demons? And the worst thing is that the demons are difficult to fight because they are so shapeless and nameless. “:He who shall not be named . . .” comes to mind directly from the Harry Potter stories.

Lombada Zombie Man

Try to remember how you put your boogieman away eventually because you outgrew him. You no longer needed him to empower you. Perhaps the demons are there too so that we can empower ourselves once again as adults who are creative and productive. We really know how to do it. Sometimes we just have to remember. And we have to be willing, like Harry Potter and his friends, to do battle with them. As my friend Spencer used to always say to me, “Good night, sleep tight. Wake up bright in the morning light and do what’s right with all your might.” Sometimes we might not have a lot of might to fight with, but we need to remember most of all not to give up in the presence of the demons. They may seem more powerful than we are, but we have something they don’t on our sides, and that is our enduring faith that something we are doing is right, and something they are doing is very, very wrong. They will never be as powerful as us because they cannot be named, and we have been named. Without a name, you are nothing but a shapeless form without meaning, so whatever meaning those demons have is meaning we are choosing to give them.

For those of you who are fighting your inner demons, I hope that you will not only begin to see the demons for what they are, but to realize that you can dismiss them just as you called them forth. You might even want to make some art of all the demons that haunt your creativity as I have done with mine. Sometimes giving them an actual persona can show you just how silly they really are and when you hang them where you can see them, you can deal with them more easily.

The little demons on this page are Boobalala and Zombie Lombada Man, some of my own little artsy demons. Boobalala was made by painting part of my anatomy and then pressing it to cloth in one of those primitive women’s ceremonial experiments artists sometimes do.  He is actually the last remnant of another piece I created.