Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Flannery and to peacocks.

 I recently completed a commission that was a lot of fun for me - a portrait of the Southern writer Flannery O'Connor. I'm ashamed to say I have never read her writing, though years ago when I worked at a bookstore there was a beautiful volume of her stories with a large graphic of a peacock feather on the cover, and I was always tempted to buy it. The brief description of the stories' contents on the back cover struck me as a little dark, and that is what kept me at bay.
While working on this piece and researching Flannery, I learned that she felt her critics sorely misinterpreted her in this way, and that she did not feel her work to be as dark as it was made out to be. Knowing what these stories are about, and knowing that Flannery did not perceive them to be as dark as most interpreted, makes me want to read them now - to see what softness they reveal and to read more deeply past their plots.
When I was asked to do this piece, I wanted to honor Flannery. There were only a few things I solidly knew about her before beginning this piece, one of them being that she loved peacocks. Now that I know her better, I know that she faced incredibly difficult times, was passionate and determined in her career as a writer, and loved and was fascinated by all kinds of feathered creatures. For me, anyone who truly loves and cares for animals is a beautiful person. I look forward to reading some of her work this summer.
I hope you are all enjoying a lovely April! After a long winter, it seems that spring has finally come to Boston. xo

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