1. The series starts with a silhouetted cat sitting in a window looking out at the moon. Together they loosely form a Yin-Yang symbol. Formed by the black cat, Yin originally meant shady, secret, dark and mysterious -consistent with the sense of eeriness I wanted to convey. I also wanted to create a cyclical quality to the series by beginning and ending it with the waiting cat. In addition, the window is framed by moonlit curtains. Ah, what can I say? I had foresaid it myself:
Summer's path has led to winter's threshold.
Its entrance moonlit as foresaid.
Enter gravely or with revelry bold
for with you, also pass the dead.
2. Between the moon and cat in the next drawing is the white owl mask worn by a trick or treater. The two other people are from photos of my daughter and her daughter. The story begins to move forward as the cat moves toward the open doorway. With moon lighted curtains (see above).
3. The third drawing associates the cat with a skull and pumpkins. One little tidbit I learned in my readings, jack-o-lanterns were carved originally to imitate a skull. (See ‘Yin’ above). Descending the stairs begins another cyclical pattern. After ascending another set of staircases, the cat will fly further upward, and then descend back to earth –completing a circle by moving downward, upward, further upward, then down.
4. The fourth drawing moves the story further ahead. By some 15 yards. Symbolism? You betcha. The house’s entrance is flanked by skeleton and ghost decorations -one physical death, the other spiritual existence after death. A small statue of a crow stands atop the railing post on the side of the hanging skeleton and a statue of an owl (see above) on the other. Dare I also mention the little silhouetted decorations in the lawn? Or the left-right positioning of the two trick or treaters? No, I better not.
I tried mightily to be consistent with all views of the window, doorway and stairs. I also tried to be consistent throughout the series regarding the moon’s direction and rate of rising in the course of the evening. I should post a warning here –ahead is sheer obsessiveness. I confess, I made a map of the cat’s path through the streets leading up to the cemetery’s entrance. Basically, the cat is heading north and east while the moon rises and moves westward. For the most part, the house and its decorations are based on photographs I took in Moline on Halloween, 2008.
One more warning. When I speak of positioning a cat with a moon to form a symbol, that is only one facet of my decision making or ways in which one can read their relationship. To a very great extent, I put the two together because they look right. To look right, to feel right, they have to have a pleasing contour separately and collectively; a clarity of value contrast; the right emphasis within a dominance hierarchy. They need, in short, to work with all of the drawing’s compositional strategies. They also have to strike the right tone and mood. Any object has many cultural, pragmatic and personal meanings. Simply putting two things together creates an even more dizzying number. So when I speak of symbolism, it is the most conscientious –or at least, the easiest to articulate- association that sits atop a bubbling cauldron of other associations and considerations.