Monday, June 22, 2009

Why Halloween? Why Flight?

Hello Pope One. Hello Pope Two.

Halloween Flight is a series of twenty-eight graphite drawings I began working on in the summer of 2007. From the beginning, I wanted the series to convey a sense of eeriness. I loved Halloween when I was a kid, in part, because of the sense of venturing out into a dark, strange world away from the familiarity and safety of home. Coming back with the loot was the other part. In many ways, the series is about making the familiar strange and the strange familiar.

For the past two years, I've also read a pile of books I gathered about the history of Halloween and symbolism. As I read, I collected a pretty extensive amount of information and developed a symbolic undercurrent to the story. All of the costumes are archetypes such as skeletons or owls for this reason. No Barbara Bush masks. No Squidward Q. Tenacles costumes. I also felt this gave the story a more timeless quality. There are also no parked cars or traffic. For that matter, there are no names or words on street signs or gravestones.

Most background images in the series are houses, streets and objects I photographed around town -usually in the daytime. I even lived in a couple of these houses. Some of the drawings are composed from as many as a dozen of these photo sources, including lots of spooky trees.

As I intend to publish these drawings in book form, I also paired the drawings as facing pages on the website. The cat or crow appear only once across the facing pages with two exceptions: at the beginning when I’m trying to establish that the cat is leaving the house; and when the cat and crow are transformed. I didn’t place either across the center of the five larger drawings because these drawings will be divided in the middle when printed. It was both a limitation and an opportunity to create images in which both halves had to work as separate images, yet tie together as a single composition.

Initially I titled the series, Halloween’s Other Moon. This came from a short poem about the moon following me when I was young. Though I -eventually- figured out it was an illusion, I still retain my childhood image of the moon –the other moon. As I continued to read about symbolism, I learned that Other Moon was an astrology term tied to Lilith. In her own right, Lilith is a fascinating figure. She is a night demon in Jewish lore and an owl in the King James Bible. Versatile, eh? She is also a symbol of death. However, alluding to her name in the title would, in affect, make us see the whole series through the lens of her mythology.

I decided on Halloween Flight last fall. It obviously refers directly to the transformation of the cat into a crow halfway through the series. However, I also liked the connotation of a flight of fancy and flight as in fleeing. In addition, it also created a fresher image for me than Halloween moon.