Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Every Savage Can Dance

When I was working towards my BS in art at the UW-Madison I had an assignment to do a series of pieces, all the same size, that were interconnected. At the time I was heavily playing tabletop card games like Steve Jackson's Munchkin, so I envisioned the project as a set of playing cards that explained my personality. There was "A Vicious Feline of Extreme Loyalty" at plus three points that cancelled out my "Inability to Figure Out Your ID," existential angst being a college prerequisite. There was a good fairy balanced by a bad fairy, and physical traits like back problems and corrective vision. But it was my "Jane Austen/Darcy Obsession" at minus one point that captured my imagination. Is it any surprise? I was admittedly an addict. But I viewed it as a gentle and genteel addiction, hence it only encumbering me to a factor of minus one. Yet in creating this piece inspiration stuck and I had this need to continue on, to re-interpret famous Jane Austen illustrations in new mediums that captured the emotion behind the image. Jane Austen had sparked my sensibilities to create and create I must!

As to where this all started? When I was little we had a select few volumes of Jane Austen's work from the first color edition. As to why we didn't have the complete set, that would be down to my grandmother and her sister dividing all the family books based on their sensibilities. I loved the illustrations, despite their pastel hues leaning heavily on pink. The illustrations were done by the brothers Brock. They were technically brilliant, but sometimes the precision was at the expense of the emotion. C.E. Brock actually illustrated all Austen's novels again and again, I think in an attempt to find more fluidity and emotion in the work, but leading it to also be very similar in style to his contemporary, Hugh Thomson. And yet they never captured to me the precise fluctuating meaning of the scenes, finding the underlying truth that needs to be spoken. Therefore I decided to continue to re-imagine the drawings of the brothers Brock, infusing book illustrations typical of the turn of the last century with added layers of meaning and emotion that the novels have given me, and it all started here with my "addiction" newly retitled "Every Savage Can Dance."

This piece depicts the scene wherein Sir Lucas is trying to tempt Darcy to dance with Elizabeth by claiming the merits of dancing as being a part of civilized society, yet as Darcy points out, every uncivilized one as well. Though Elizabeth is still hurt from his snubbing her at their first meeting and therefore refuses his hand, never knowing that he has since developed a tendre for her. I used a gilt patterned paper to indicate that Regency opulence we all envision, but as for how I reinterpreted the drawing? I removed Sir Lucas and took Darcy and Elizabeth away from their surroundings. They are set apart and alone, much like the cheesy dance scene between Elizabeth and Darcy in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that had the right idea but the wrong execution.The cool colors of their forms, just gesso and pencil, indicate that while this might be the greatest love story ever told and they stand apart, they are not yet together. I hope this captures a bit of what this scene means to you and that you will enjoy this trip down memory lane this summer as I explore what led me to create this series and how they reflect my love of Austen and how her brilliance has inspired me to create.


Newer Post Older Post Home