This is the second installment of the Over Underworld art exhibit, a virtual release of paintings in March 2020.
Featured art: The Sky is Falling on the Little Red Hen
I’m here in coronavirus lockdown in Sonoma County, California, watching our collective sky fall. In 2019, I did a series of small works that reflected the political situation. When I do these paintings, I just really let anything happen, but normally a fairy tale or folk tale or aphorism starts to emerge, combined with images from my daily life. I don’t know how or why these paintings happen. I try to paint first, analyze later.
The Little Red Hen in the story was the worker who could not get any help to make bread from all the farmyard animals. Nonetheless, everyone wanted to eat the bread when she was done. It seems to be an original American fable not based in European storytelling. The link is to a 1918 version of the tale.
The Sky is Falling involves another hen, Henny-Penny, which must be why the two stories melted together in my painting brain. The Sky is Falling is as apt a metaphor for our current toxic political crisis as I’ve seen. It is a nasty and violent story of trying to have your urgent message of emergency and disaster heard by The King (Trump)and being eaten alive along the way by his rich henchman, the devious propagandist named Foxy-Woxy! The link to the version I’ve given you has illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Both tales are worth re-reading.
The painting implies a reordering of the world. The gold of the good is fractured and falling down the sky. An ominous figure in the right corner is scheming on Henny-Penny’s egg– try to eat something he has not produced. There may be a weeping eye in the sky, if a god is looking on.
I actually do have a little red hen in my five-hen free-range urban flock. She’s named Hedy Lamar, is a bantam Cochin chicken with feather “slippers” on her feet, and lets me carry her around. She lays adorable little bantam eggs.
At the end of The Sky is Falling, the little red hen looks at the massacre around her and “crawls out of her burrow” because she has to get productive and lay an egg! Our hopeful vision is that we all need to get to our small creations to start to bring the good back to the falling down sky. Stay safe in your shelter and enjoy your “burrow,” but don’t forget to lay your “egg.” Make your little contribution to the normal and good. Folktales and history both say it has all happened before. It’s our turn of the wheel now. Suzanne
You may share this freely. Link:https://saltworkstudio.com/2020/03/19/over-underworld-2-the-sky-is-falling-on-the-little-red-hen/
March-April 2020: Over Underworld: New Work
Backstreet Gallery, where the exhibit is installed, is available for visit by appointment. Email Saltworkstudio@gmail.com.