Monday, February 22, 2016

A Painter to Love

I

Many years ago, when I was perhaps 14, my neighbors entertained a Pennsylvania family, whose daughter was my age. They were Swedenborgians, as remote and foreign and exotic a religion as anything I can imagine even today. After leaving, she and I kept up a brief correspondence, and as a gift she sent me an official book of her religion. I read it, with great interest, and thought about the book and Swedenborg for many years after.

II

I didn't realize it at the time, but my initial interest in mysticism and spiritualism met its physical match in my passion for folk art, especially the kind of art made by religious folks like Sister Gertrude Morgan, Lonnie Holley, and Ben F. Perkins. I found in their obsessive compulsion to make art influenced by some form of divine inspiration so attractive, so compelling that I visited such artists and bought their work often (at their homes or in galleries), read about them and their work, and sought more and more information.

III

Yesterday, reading The Guardian, I happened upon an article titled "Hilma af Klint: A Painter Possessed" and felt the same rush of excitement I had experienced previously. Here was a woman painting beyond her gender and generation, creating works of astounding beauty and grace, of whom I had never heard (and should have, I thought, in art history courses or through other reading). How, for example, had I missed this?

IV

So this post is as much for me as for the casual reader of my blog. I want to know more and am determined to find more.


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