The year of 2016 will be for me, remembered as a tumultuous year. On the personal side, it saw Mother Natures' destruction of my studio, and the garage it was attached to. While nothing was seriously damaged as in the devastation that can be wrought from earthquakes, forest fires, hurricanes and the like, the disaster still wreaked many tens of thousands of dollars damage. Eleven ceiling rafters broke, the walls bowed out two inches from the giant tree limb that fell on the roof. It took six months to repair and rebuild, but there was a shiny silver lining to be had! I have a beautiful, new and larger studio in it’s place, improved landscaping, and a garage that only looks like a garage because there happens to be a car parked in the middle! No one was hurt, and in all I have much to be grateful for!
As if to mimic the falling garage, I took more spills this year than any other. It seems I have a strange fascination with gravity and the ground, finding myself in a constant cycle of fall-repair-rest-yoga-start over. My "best" fall was off the top of a six-foot ladder as I stacked books in this bright new studio. Suffering only some humiliation and a broken foot, my studio now sports a wonderful library ladder securely attached to the wall! I am thinking of naming it “Big Tree Studio” in homage to that which brought it into being.
My art work has undergone new beginnings also, I am currently studying the medium of silverpoint and metalpoint. Thoroughly enjoying the hunt for its history and the renewal of the medium, I worked hard to find my own voice, and have found a place that rests well in my heart.
I have always wondered about the women who posed for hours on end for famous sculptors. In a time unimaginable for a woman to so publicly bare her body, I often felt curious what circumstances contributed to being so audacious? Were they hungry, perhaps with children to feed? Were they the artists' muse or lover, then tragically cast aside when the project was over? They are rarely acknowledged remaining nameless and faceless, except for their eternal stone beauty. I find great fulfillment in attempting to give an identity, even if imagined, to these elegant "Maidens of the Muse."
I especially thank Susan Schwalb for her willingness to tell me her story after seeing her fascinating work in the show “Drawing in Silver & Gold: From Leonardo to Jasper Johns” at the National Gallery of Art. Kind encouragement from Australia’s ARC Living Master Gordon Hanley has spurred me on, and countless others who have offered thoughtful comments. I thank all.
As long as I was so deeply involved in change, what the heck! I decided to find a new platform and rebuild my website! I love the process, I really do….until the very end when you hope it publishes as you would like and you still have an email address etc. intact! As both fine artist and photographer, finding a way to show my work in a cohesive manner has always been a challenge. I think I met that challenge and hope you enjoy viewing the end result as well, at patriceherbst.com
Of course one can’t think of the year 2016 without reflecting on the USA presidential election. Tumultuous barely describes it. With the belief "to each their own” (attributed to Cicero) I avoid writing of political and religious subjects. I will say I was indeed proud to learn my own grandmother was a member of the Suffragettes in 1911, and while women won the right to vote, it may be some time before that last glass ceiling is shattered. May our president-elect be guided by kindness and compassion in his heart, a steady hand and cautious thinking.
And so we approach the end of another year and the hope of new beginnings. My current work will progress in the folds of a glowing silver lining. This humble artist will pursue her “muse maidens” as I call them, allowing them to evolve and take face. Our country, our world will continue to tell its story, may we all come to find peace in the process.
Love to All!