February 28, 2021 · 1:00 am
“Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting” by Artemisia Gentileschi (c. 1638), British Royal Collection (Accession No. RCIN 405551) (PD)
“My illustrious lordship, I’ll show you what a woman can do.”
The Baroque artist, Artemisia Gentileschi is not known for a light and frothy style. By any standard, Artemisia’s paintings are powerful, her imagery striking.
To begin with, she often chose as her subjects strong women – whether from myth or the Bible. Among the best-known are Susanna, Esther, Judith, and Mary Magdalene . But Artemisia’s own story is compelling.
Born in 1593, Artemisia was introduced to painting by her father, Tuscan artist Orazio Gentileschi .
Rape and Trial
In 1611, Artemisia was raped by fellow artist, Agostino Tassi.
In the expectation that they would be married to restore her honor, Artemisia continued to have sexual relations with Tassi for nine months. When it became clear Tassi would not or could not marry her, Artemisia’s father pressed charges against him. Continue reading →
February 2, 2020 · 1:00 am
The artist Vincent van Gogh led a tragic life. His art – now lauded – was ahead of its time, and unappreciated by the public. Tormented by loneliness, Vincent longed desperately for love and friendship, but had difficulty with both.
However, Vincent and his brother, Theo, were extremely close. Amsterdam’s van Gogh Museum is holding an exhibition in which contemporary artists and writers have responded to the hundreds of letters Vincent wrote Theo. In these letters, Vincent movingly described his hopes and fears. See, https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/01/van-gogh-purpose-letter/ and https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/05/07/vincent-van-gogh-art-love-letters/ .
Below is an excerpt from the letter novelist, Nicole Krauss crafted . I believe abuse victims may find it helpful.
You write about fear: Fear of the blank canvas, but also, on a larger scale, of the ‘infinitely meaningless, discouraging blank side’ that life itself always turns toward us…
Repeating Old Patterns
It’s a strange thing about the human mind that, despite its capacity and its abundant freedom, its default is to function in a repeating pattern. It watches…the days and seasons, the cycle of life and death all going around in an endless loop, and unconsciously…echoes these cycles. Its thoughts go in loops, repeating patterns established so long ago we often can’t remember their origin, or why they ever made sense to us. And even when these loops fail over and over again to bring us to a desirable place, even while they entrap us… [we] still find it nearly impossible to resist them. We call these patterns of thought our ‘nature’ and resign ourselves to being governed by them as if they are the result of a force outside of us…
Breaking with the Past
And yet it is unquestionably within our power to break the loop…by choosing to think — and to see, and act — in a different way. It may require enormous effort and focus. And yet for the most part it isn’t laziness that stops us from breaking these loops, it’s fear…
And so before we can arrive at the act of breaking, we first have to confront our fear. The fear that the blank canvas and the blank side of life reflects back to us, which is so paralyzing, as you put it, and seems to tell us that ‘we can’t do anything.’ It’s an abstract fear, though it finds a way to take on endless shapes. Today it may be the fear of failure, but tomorrow it will be the fear of what others will think of us, and at a different time it will be fear of discovering that the worst things we suspect about ourselves are true… Continue reading →
Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse
Tagged as art, breaking old patterns of behavior, courage, fear of failure, fear of rejection, Kabbalah, loneliness, Nicole Krauss, Vincent van Gogh