Recently I’ve been studying poetry with my seniors, and we studied Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott, a poem about the Arthurian lady who was cursed to sit outside of life, never participating in it, only weaving the scenes she can see from a mirror. When she dared to look out upon the world, specifically upon the perfect Sir Lancelot, she was punished with death. A dramatic death, at least, where she floated down river in a boat, singing as she died. Kind of thorny, from a feminist perspective, but I have always loved the romanticism of the poem. Complimenting this romanticism, John William Waterhouse, the Pre-Raphaelite painter, painted the seminal work on this poem, portraying a pale redhead in a flowing gown wrapped in a tapestry she wove.
I decided to do a take on that painting for a romantic summer outfit. If you went out in a medieval dress, you’d get some stares, so instead we change it to a white maxi dress with orange flowers that pick up on the tones in the tapestry. The Lady of Shalott is holding chains in her hand, so that detail is being picked up in the shoes. She’s wearing a triple strand of chunky amber beads (very stylish!); the budget version is beautiful chunky orange stones with a crystal bead.
Today I went to the art museum. I go there a lot, relatively. Like, compared to the average person. I hit up the museum once a month or so. At one point I was mayor of the museum on Foursquare, and I was insanely happy. I love museums. I love their stillness, their peacefulness. I love the fact that I can stare at a painting for as long as I want, and nobody cares. I can commit each brush stroke to memory, or fall into the colors.
The museum has a wonderful exhibit going on right now called Sensory Crossovers: Synesthesia in American Art. Synesthesia refers to sensory fusions or crossovers. For instance, there are those who can “see” sounds, and “hear” colors. The artists depict music, storms, math, and foghorns. The exhibit is interactive; dial a phone number, enter the code by the painting, and it plays the music or sound that the painting is related to.
This was my second time at this exhibit. Each time, it blew me away. But the first time, I got a real shock–one of the beautiful abstracts was by e.e. cummings, the poet who wrote the poem my blog title comes from. He’s been a favorite of mine for many years, and I never knew he painted.
It impresses me when someone who is so talented hones another skill. The restless who never stop growing and learning always are my heroes. Cummings pushed the boundaries of form in poetry, which made him special. And then he took all the leftovers that he didn’t put into his poetry, I like to imagine, and put them into his paintings.
dive for dreams by e.e. cummings
dive for dreams
or a slogan may topple you
(trees are their roots
and wind is wind)
trust your heart
if the seas catch fire
(and live by love
though the stars walk backward)
honour the past
but welcome the future
(and dance your death
away at the wedding)
never mind a world
with its villains or heroes
(for god likes girls
and tomorrow and the earth)