Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Daily Study: Whitman and Psyche

Study for a larger work, charcoal on mylar drafting film, with digital underlay of a Walt Whitman poem. Image size: 9 1/2 x 7". In vintage tabletop swing frame: 12 1/2 x 11" overall. Facsimile butterfly.

Another small work to be included in my "Black Butterfly: The Muse" solo show, which is scheduled to open on September 18th in Chicago. In the series, the butterfly is a symbol for the artist's muse, and all of the subjects I'm drawing are in the arts. I've been reading poetry recently, and am pleased to include Walt Whitman in the series.

"Whitman and the Butterfly
The reference photograph, taken in 1877, was one of Whitman's favorites. He used the butterfly-on-hand as a recurring motif in his books and intended for this photo to be reproduced as the frontispiece in this sample proof of Leaves of Grass from 1891. To foster the image of himself as one with nature, he claimed that insect was real and one of his "good friends." But a band visible around Whitman's finger matches the wire under the butterfly artifact (above). This colorful cardboard prop was tucked into one of the first Whitman notebooks donated to the Library in 1918. The word "Easter" is printed down its spine. Dr. Bucke, one of his literary heirs, said the butterfly was Psyche, the poet's soul."*

*source: “Good Gray Poet: Revising Himself”, http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/whitman-goodgraypoet.html


Candace X. Moore said...

Alice, Your posts are always so full of good content. Love the paragraph on Walt at the end…Good art is at the heart of things, but don’t underestimate promotion and clever packaging.

Nice combination of images in your Whitman piece. Will you be posting any links/images from the show?

Alice McMahon White said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment Candace! Funny that Walt Whitman thought about the butterfly in much the same way I've been this past year. I've always loved his poetry, but now when I read it, I often find myself audibly saying "YES!"

And speaking of self-promotion, I most definitely will post images from the show. haha!

Your work is so gorgeous, I must spend more time with it.

Karen Appleton said...

Alice I just can't say enough, how great the series of yours is. I love the info on Whitman too, and find it fascinating when one muse picks up a new voice to carry on with! This will no doubt be a fantastic show!