Tuesday, February 21, 2012

L'Heure Bleu

When I get frustrated, I feel a whirring in my head. Right behind my eyes, gears are spinning out of control. Thoughts are cascading and crashing and I try to grind myself back to a place of equilibrium. Some of the time, I grow harsh toward myself, which doesn't help matters at all.

A couple weeks ago on a Friday, the noisy whine of judgment and isolation was consuming me, and I came across a listing for an art opening that night for Yann Novak's Blue.Hour. I read a brief description of the showing, and what caught my eye was that the featured piece was composed of images and sounds captured at Joshua Tree. I am still dreaming of the desert, so I felt compelled to go.

I ventured to Jack Straw New Media Gallery and was greeted by a friendly face who pointed me in the direction of the exhibit. I pulled back a heavy curtain, entered a dark room, and sat on a bench with one other patron. In front of me was a large projection, and enveloping me were a fog of sounds. I fell head first into the piece. 

The image slowly changed before me, the colors softening and warming. The sounds were otherworldly, like a scored ocean. I felt myself unfurling. The gears righted themselves. This is what I had imagined serenity to be like. 

A distant memory came billowing to the fore. My cousin was about four or five years old and sitting on a stool in my parent's kitchen. One of my aunts found a watercolor paintbrush and started swiping the brush across my cousin's cheeks. Her eyes closed, her long lashes fanned across her face, and her mouth opened into a slight smile. She looked so peaceful, and despite that moment happening more than 12 years ago, the image of her glowing with contentment has stayed with me. 

And this is the power of art. This is what art can do. My mother, a talented artist, raised me to believe and, more importantly, trust in the transformative properties of art. Novak's Blue.Hour changed my unsettled state into a serene one. I felt like I could breath again. 

Visit Novak's website to see video of Blue.Hour, and experience the piece in person at Jack Straw New Media Gallery if you're in the Seattle area.