Thursday, February 6, 2014

R.S.V.P.

During last semester and the beginning of this semester, I participated in an event at my school called RSVP. The event takes five writing/English students and five art students and pairs them up to swap pieces and then create a new piece in response (not interpretation or just describing what is happening, but what comes to mind). However, during the course of the event we were not allowed to speak with the person who had our piece or the person who created the piece we were given. I found it to be a thrilling idea, and I would love to participate in more events like this someday.

I submitted my flash fiction piece "The Weeping of an Angel." And one artist (randomly selected) created a fantastic 3D piece in response. I adored it.

For a response piece, I was selected to receive this magnificent painting called "King of Beasts." It truly left me breathless and I struggled a long while with what to write about. The first thing that came to mind was Narnia. But I could not find it inside of me to go in that direction. It was much too powerful of a thought for me to do justice with it. However, I soon found an idea and wrote a short piece and submitted.

The entire show is on display in a gallery at my school, with the artwork matched to the writing and vice-versa. I think everyone who participated in the event was pleased with the turn out. It was an incredible and eye-opening experience.

Here is my piece, which I hope you take the time to read. It's called "Vincent."

You can’t paint. Everything you do will fail.
Voices screaming in my head. Pounding over and over like the drumbeat of an unfinished song. A low rumbling, a hidden roar in the throat of lion. It thickens. It washes over me. The constant chatter drives me out of the room, off the seat of the wooden chair, and down the staircase that sounds as if it has ancient bones cracking.
Outside, darkness engulfs the field. The trees are a mountain of black next to the sky. Distant moans of the wind drift to my open ears but they are soft whispers against the voices.  In and out. Overrunning. Like bugs buzzing in the midsummer night air.
You’re paintings are no good. Ugly. Failures.
I walk down the porch steps and set my bare feet in the grass. Cold. Wet. Covered in the beginning frosts of autumn into winter. The air pricks my cheeks, Goosebumps, telling me I am alive.
But maybe I don’t want to be alive.
I start across the field. My back hunches over so I can watch the grass curl around my feet. Like a ship breaking through the crashing waves of a storm. Overwhelmed by the darkness but still moving forward. Tears hit my eyes as the image scorches on to my retinas and demands to be sketched. The callouses on my hands thrum from where I hold the brush. I can’t draw. I can’t paint.
You will fail.
I stop, blurred eyes closed, burning. Voices from all around echo. A cocoon of darkness surrounds me. A shroud of cold, death-like. But the voices are there. Within the darkness. Within my soul.
Screaming back doesn’t help. It leaves a raw feeling in my throat and a loud echo in the air. Maybe this is how Vincent Van Gogh felt when he pointed the revolver at his chest and pulled the trigger. Overwhelmed. Tired but unable to sleep. Worthless. Failure.
You are a monster. A beast. An abomination.
You’re not an artist. You’re just a mess. A disaster waiting to happen.
I hope you are eaten by a lion in the wild.
But there are no lions out here. Wolves? Maybe. Possibly a bear. They leave me alone. As do people.
The field and grass and small house that is filled with half-finished sketches and canvases smeared with paint are mine and mine alone. Alone. Solitude. Isolation. It is what I crave and fear.
The tears come faster as the voices ricochet. I can’t make them stop. I can’t do anything but give into their lies and believe it all to be true. I am a failure.
Will the sadness last forever?
I lift my head toward the night sky and scream. Through blurred eyes, I see glimpses of dreams. Blinking, I gasp. Darkness. Then, a multitude of stars explode across my retinas. Blazing, bursting, glazing with light. The frantic battering of my heart softens. The voices fade into whispers, soon swallowed up by the stars.
Silence and stars. All at once. Consuming me. Tugging me into the vortex of space.
Galaxies wobbling in and out. Rainbow colors gushing. Stars swirling and whirling. Together and apart, creating a display far greater than anything else.
The sight of the stars makes me dream.
A strangled cry rises to my lips. The hidden roar of a lion bursts forth. It does not come from the voices. They have left. It comes from my lungs, from the deepest part of my soul where the stars ignite within the void. Immense joy. Tears soak my eyes as I howl to the stars. The view clenches my gut. Breathless. It refills every fiber of my dreams.  
I stare at the stars for a long time. Hours. Days even. I think to myself of all the possibilities shining down on me. Lights. Beauty. Majesty.
In time, I take those steps back to the house, up the porch steps, across the threshold of the outside and the emptiness of the house. Up the bone-creaking steps to the small room that holds only a chair, a desk, and an easel. A window, the curtains always drawn, peers out into the world. The stars sing above the dark mountain of trees and the sea of grass below.
I pick up a paintbrush and begin to draw lines on the white space.

The beginning is perhaps more difficult than anything else, but keep heart, it will turn out all right. –Vincent Van Gogh


-Jaguar Hero!

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