August 4, 2017

Afternoon through Midnight

        Here is the second half of my day of “hours.”  To compare with the earlier four (which you can revisit here), there is a little more reference to human homes here.  I always feel that part of the beauty of night is being able to go in from it when you want.  I especially love the look of lighted windows as the sky turns dark.  But it’s also comforting to remember that while I’m shut away from the night in my bed, the rest of the universe carries on: stars wheeling, animals of every kind living their lives, tides rising and falling, all without any reference to me and my concerns.
        As for the verses on these pieces, Noon is attributed to a traditional Jewish proverb; Dusk is mine; Evening is from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; and Midnight is a line from an Algonquin legend as recorded by Charles G. Leland in 1884.  Obviously music and singing are a recurring theme 
among all eight “hours”.  Sometimes music is a very clear, physical way to rejoice and celebrate, but phrases such as “my heart sang” and “the music of the spheres” show how deeply music symbolizes rightness and joy even when you’re outwardly silent.
        Obviously the other recurring theme here is nature.  Certainly I’m grateful for all manner of technology that makes my life comfortable, safe, and productive, not to mention interesting.  But the whole idea of a book of hours for me was to remember the natural rhythms of the day and use them as a basis for contemplation and awareness of the divine.  It’s best to treasure the fact that life comes in its seasons despite all our efforts to control it.  I’ve also made sure to choose some of my favorite unremarkable creatures for these pieces, including red-winged blackbirds, fireflies, and bats.  These are not the big 
and flashy animals like tigers or whales that everyone admires, or the cute ones that everybody loves.  Rather they’re the everyday, ordinary creatures that would be easy to overlook and forget, but which make my heart sing whenever I notice them.

        So here I am with a series of eight block prints, and a lot of thought about the idea behind a book of hours: a call to personal devotion that is also a thing of beauty.  That has led me to the idea of compiling an actual book, with words and images.  I’ve been collecting snippets of psalms and other poetry to assign to different times of day; I’ve been converting elements of these eight block prints into borders to decorate text; and I’ve been working on how this can become a book that might be really meaningful to people with a broad range of specific spiritual 
backgrounds.  We’ll see how it all comes together.

[Pictures: Afternoon, rubber block print by AEGN, 2017;
Dusk, rubber block print by AEGN, 2017;
Evening, rubber block print by AEGN, 2017;
Midnight, rubber block print by AEGN, 2017.]


Cate said...

Beautiful in every way. Thank you! What a great example of art as a way of life and Being.

Cate said...

PS Would totally get your book!

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Thanks! =)