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  • Writer's picturesharonkingston

Memory and Creative Work

meanderings of a longing, 24 x 30 inches, oil on canvas

presence of absence, 30 x 30 inches, oil on canvas

memory is not enough, 24 x 24 inches, oil on paper

memory is not enough II,  24 x 24 inches oil on paper

memory of moonlight II, 12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

memory of moonlight I, 12 x 12 inches, oil on canvas

“Psychologists believe that our capacity for creative work hinges on our memory and the ability to draw on our mental catalog of remembered experiences and ideas. More than that, memory is our lifeline to our own selves. Indeed, can there be anything more central to identity than memory?”

These paintings were driven by words from Rilke referencing memory (the September 13 entry in a Year with Rilke translations by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows).  These words were written in letter form to Lou Andreas-Salome from Rilke in 1911 as what I interpret to be a lament on a lost love, a lost presence.  The sentiment felt right for my situation and the changing of the season.  Folded into and inspiring my work this week were also the full moon, the anniversary of Sept 11, the warmth of an Indian Summer, late works by Joan Mitchell. Over the course of the week I started thinking about memory as a presence of absence–maybe of my former self. Aging has that affect on a person.  This morning I read in Brain Pickings the statement of memory as a lifeline to our own selves and it became apparent that memory could in fact act as a means to infuse my work with a lyrical blend of looking inward and outward to help me find my way in the now.

The work I made is different.  No horizon line.  No somber contemplation.  More warmth.  More evanescence.  More movement.  More mark making. Yet still, the aura of atmosphere.

Here are the words from Rilke:

Memory is not enough… I do not recollect. What I am is alive in me because of you. I do not reinvent you at sadly cooled-off places you have left behind. Even your absence is filled with your warmth and is more real than your not-existing. Longing often meanders into vagueness. Why should I throw myself away when something in you may be touching me, very lightly, like moonlight on a window seat.

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