Monday, September 1, 2008

Traveling with the Tablets

Years ago, I wrote a short poem for some exchange students from France:
... O the encounters of brave travelers--
Teenagers flying above the clouds bouncing
toward futures
Ricocheting with the shots of good fortune
Blessings of strangers/angels in
Cowboy's grinning hats
slinging rays of sunlight or
smoothing moonlit nights of softenend light

Night of Tucson chirps despite the howl
Of dogs of war--and clichéd wanton greed--lassoeing
The world out of linguistic conversations
of hope and
Cuidado jumping cholla
Cuidado ricocheted words
Cuidado and Vaya con Dios muchachos
Cuidado et bon voyage
m. s. e.©

As my college student returns to his school so very far away, I recall the mailart tablets I made and sent to him this year. These took much longer to make. I wanted him to have before him a reminder of the most important things. The painter, Fritz Scholder, once said that we kept the Tablets, but lost the Ark...But, I think we carry both within. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

There's so much I want to respond to here. I look at this work with wonder and amazement. How do you get into the right state of mind to create these? Makes me feel like I've missed something in communicating with my kids. Your son is very fortunate.

I watched Ell's film in Icelandic. He made me laugh. You've raised a fine, humorous, unselfconscious boy.

Regarding the tablets/ark; I do think we sometimes keep the list of do's and don'ts and forget to connect with the One who created them. My spiritual life gets stale when I do that. But I know what you mean, that we carry both inside. I absolutely agree.

I have in my bookmarks a great little video clip of Fritz Scholder painting on a huge canvas. You can see it at:

Melinda said...

Your words are really kind and very generous.

State of mind? Well, I'll have a conversation with my son, usually too brief, and then have more I want to say. So, what would you say to your kids if you couldn't speak to them in person, couldn't email them and couldn't phone them? Then, think of that stack of magazines and newspapers that need to be recycled and the packing material that needs to go. What would you say to your kids by way of newspaper clippings? Where are the hidden messages, like looking for clues, in the texts available as you think about issues your children may be dealing with?

This is pretty much the way I approach it. I could email him. I could call him on the phone. I could write him a snail mail letter (might seem like nagging). But, mailart is visual, possibly poetic and young people rarely make things with their hands after the age of 12, right?

Thank you so much for the kind feedback about Ell. He's a good guy and, as you say, funny. I wish he had more time to make movies, but he's into math these days.

It's never too late to communicate your love and thoughts with your children. I'm quite sure you've been doing this in a different way!

My inspiration for mailart really comes from a 1950s artist--Ray Johnson. He was a very bizarre person, to many he was completely unlikable, but he used everything around him in his work. If you ever get the chance to see How to Draw a Bunny, you'll see what I mean. This documentary is tragic, disturbing and should not be seen by young people! However, his work is spectacular.

Thank you, too, for the link to Fritz Scholder. I met Scholder on a couple of occasions in the 1980s and he became my art mentor...even though he didn't know it! I even had his home phone number, but could never get up the courage to go up to visit him. Stupid me. I like how he said that an artist puts down a color and then that leads to another color. Another conversation, yes?

Unknown said...

love these. I need to set them up. Also need more desk space :P

Melinda said...

Thank you, Elliði, dear one! More desk space!! I didn't think of that. Maybe, if your room is big enough, you could shop around for a plant stand or small table for some of the mailart.
I guess I need to keep that in mind when working in this genre--make letters that are mostly for the walls, or smaller for tucking into desk drawers.
I'm so glad you found time to post here!

Edgar said...

I heard a story from my Hebrew School teacher that the ark held the fragments of the original tablets, and a jar of manna. They were evidence of the direct involvement of God in the world. The ark's lost (unless you believe that Ethiopian story), and no doubt full of dust now, but that would be a sight to see.

So, we have no choice but to carry the tablets in "redrawn" form, do we? Isaiah said we should have the rules written on our hearts. And what is art but an expression of what is in our hearts, since the things that are already in the world are there for everyone to see ... unless they get carried off by Babylonians, who lose things.

Melinda said...

I think I've had an epiphany. I must be part Babylonian because I am losing things all of the time! Are you sure it wasn't the Assyrians?
Your tie in to art is insightful. So true. Thank you.

Cara said...

Melinda - I think the secret lies in the possibility that its all fragmented out and stored piece by piece within each person - you can feel it in the coming together of various people. Each time its a new experience but generally a worthy experience depending on who we chose to surround oursleves with -

Melinda said...

Yes, Cara, I agree whole heartedly. And, our artworks are a part of that piece work. I like viewing art this way!

Edgar said...

I thought "mail art" meant the pitchers on the postage stamps.