You may recognize the reference to a Wallace Stevens poem in the title: “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” In an effort to try to break me out of my comfortable patterns, I decided to use this poem as inspiration to see the same still life object in thirteen different ways.
It is very easy to get stuck in one perspective, but there are indeed many different ways to view the exact same thing. So far, I have worked with the pomegranate from three different perspectives. Not taken completely literally, I have had in mind, the first, second and fourth stanzas.
Some of these are still available to buy. Click on a picture to see if it leads to my web store for more information.
IAmong twenty snowy mountains,The only moving thingWas the eye of the blackbird.
In this first one, it is more of a sense of opening than “moving” with the “eye”. Among tough skin, the hard sheen of plates or bowls, and the implacable surfaces of walls and counters, the only opening is the eye of the pomegranate.
III was of three minds,Like a treeIn which there are three blackbirds.
In this second pomegranate painting, the three angles of the pomegranates offer three perspectives, or three “minds”. These “minds” can be thought of as both visible and seeing, if we follow the previous notion of the pomegranate itself as an eye.
We can see a top, side, and bottom mind while these minds “look” back at us, backward and to the right, and beyond the audience’s field of view. In this sense, it also echoes the ninth stanza: “When the blackbird flew out of sight,/ It marked the edge/ Of one of many circles.”
A man and a womanAre one.A man and a woman and a blackbirdAre one.
This third painting offers a sort of clarification to various interpretations that can be made of Stevens’ fourth stanza. The packaging of a pomegranate is fairly simple, but its insides are somewhat mysterious.
The whole, uncut fruit looks similar to an apple. It could be anything inside. It’s skin could house any raw flesh, but the point is that it doesn’t matter. The dark, sparkling rubies of the torn pomegranate reveal what is inside all three, reflecting the way in which all living things are made of the same sparkling, mysterious “stuff”.
Beyond the allusion to this stanza about the three being one, this painting also calls into play the notion of the blackbirds around the women’s feet, as precious as “golden birds” to those with vision. These pomegranate seeds–bursting through the tough, leathery skin of the fruit–illustrate that even a tough skin can in fact be a hoard of jewels.
IVI do not know which to prefer,The beauty of inflectionsOr the beauty of innuendoes,The blackbird whistlingOr just after.
Deep thoughts TBA
I have more ambitions than time these days, but also I find it’s good to let a project rest at some points so as to escape any binding patterns or developing habits. Patterns and habits are definitely not what I’m going for here.
I anticipate jumping genres next, but we shall see.