“The Daylight Of Conscious Thinking” What’s with the Red Boot?

Detail from the Wedding Ring Quilt
Detail from the Wedding Ring Quilt

“…I’m finding it fascinating what you are doing with this. But for the life of me, I don’t understand the big red boot (Cinderella’s shoe)…how did this idea come to you, and in red??…”

Sandy  left this comment on my blog and I told her I was just thinking about the same thing myself.  And Jon’s  blog post Portraits of Creativity. Writing Class. Portraits of the Soul  is one of the things that got me thinking about it.   In it Jon writes “unconscious forces announce themselves through words, they reveal the nature of our existence.”   This applies not just to words but to any form of self expression such as the images that I use.

I don’t plan what I’m going to do when I begin working on a piece like Wedding Ring Quilt.  What I do is hang the quilt and see what comes to me.  The image of a boot was the first thing I saw.  I had no idea why or what it meant, but I trusted it.   First I filled it in with pink and orange fabric.  But when I looked at it, it wasn’t right.  Right for what?  I still had no idea, I just knew it was the wrong color.  So I made it the “right” color.  And red boots have shown up in a lot of my work.  They’re part of my visual vocabulary.   I think the idea is a combination of Dorothy’s red shoes, my  own red shoes and the red boots that one of the women (I don’t remember her name) wears in one of the stories in Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House.  They’re partly about defying the norm. 

But the question of  where did the idea come from is just what Jon is writing about.  Why did I see the boot, why did I think of paper dolls and want to incorporate that idea into the piece.  They came from  inside my unconscious.  And to keep this unconscious flow going,while I’m working on the piece I don’t want to think of it too much.  I don’t want my conscious mind forcing it into a direction it’s own direction.   When I look at the piece it’s going to tell me what it’s about.  I’m not going to dictate that to it.

So when Jon writes “unconscious forces announce themselves through words, they reveal the nature of our existence.”  This is exactly what is happening.  This piece is telling me about myself.  Once I bring the images into the physical world I can look at them and delve deeper into understanding their meaning.   And it’s not always easy to do this.  Sometimes what comes up is disturbing, not something that’s easy for me to admit about myself.  But I know understanding and dealing with these things is the only way to grow and move on.  And I don’t want to live in the dark anymore.

And when it works, I’m not just talking to myself.  What my unconscious has released and what I’ve brought  into the light, has the potential to connect to a hidden part in someone else.  So when I read a Mary Olive poem and cry, but don’t understand why I’m crying, that ‘s  just what’s happened.  And if I think about it, if I can figure it out, I bring that unconscious part of myself into the light.  And something about me is revealed.  And I know myself a little bit better.

These pieces that I make are not linear narratives.  They’re circular stories that connect and bounce off each other.  It turns out that this Wedding Ring Quilt, which is traditionally about the union of a woman and a man, in my hands has changed it’s meaning.  And I’m still not completely sure where it’s going, but since I started working on it I’ve been trying to break down the pattern of those intertwined rings.  And as much of my work is about, it speaks of women standing on their own and having a voice.   Cinderella can cover a lot more ground in a pair of red boots than she can in a pair of glass slippers.

Jon wrote “Only that which can be submitted to the magic of words can be brought to the daylight of conscious thinking Word or images, music, dance, mathematics,  whatever your medium.  It’s our voice and the way we connect with each other on a deeper level.  And get to know our true selves.

5 thoughts on ““The Daylight Of Conscious Thinking” What’s with the Red Boot?

  1. I’ve said before ,Maria, I find new growth in your work these days. More color and depth. Not just outlines but more filled in designs. This growth is a delight to see and so interesting.

  2. I appreciate these words Maria and I admire your willingness to sit with the “image” and create your art in visuals before attempting to box it in with thoughts or explanations-to let your unconscious guide the process. I have experienced what you described as art (yours or others) touching the unconscious and eliciting emotions that one may not even understand or be able to articulate. Sometimes the visual is the articulation. And in this language can communicate.

  3. Maria, I hope I didn’t stop the flow of creativity with the ‘red boot’ question. That’s all it takes for me in the midst of a creative flow to have someone ask me questions about what I’m doing, almost like a personal interference in this outpouring of creativity. I was making a wall quilt two years ago when a friend came in and said “Heavens, it’s colourful chaos”. When I stopped to really look at what I was doing, she was right, the colours just got wilder and wilder on me and I ended up calling it that when it went out for exhibit. I know what I want to say visually and I do appreciate someone making me stop and think about what I’m doing from another person’s perspective but it does sometimes slow me down and take me in a different direction than the one I’d initially been doing. And maybe that’s not a bad thing either.

    1. Not at all Sandy. The conversation was an enlightening and made me think in a similar way that the woman who made a comment about your work made you think.

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