Revisiting Circus of the Soul in 2013
This was one of the largest exhibits I’ve had and it is a theme I continue to explore. It was originally exhibited in Medford, Oregon at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center and has since been shown in a church and a gallery in Portland and elsewhere.
The large gallery in Medford was a wonderful venue; with outer gallery walls and inner panels I was able to display the work as a “3 Ring Circus” of sorts, with the outer walls holding the cosmology/theology pieces, and used the inner clusters of three circular panel configurations to present the earthly forms and figures.
Ten years later I still resonate with the importance of this theme, and continue to offer classes on the Art of the Circus. This powerful metaphor has been explored and exploited by many artists and is also at the core of much carnal entertainment we see today, as well as pageantry and sacred rituals of religion. As Above, So Below, we strive to rise to our highest potentials and continue to be tempted by the gravity of our human condition.
Soon I will present a contiguous body of work called “Eve’s Bad Rap.” In this “better story” I look at the damage done by the myth of Eden and look at new parables, better outcomes and more positive portrayals of women and their huge contribution to society, beauty, industry: a happiness and prosperity that would be impossible without them.
He comes dragging his sack of troubles
No sweet arrows in his bag;
A kick to your rear or a whack with his cane –
If your heart’s been broken, let him redirect your pain!
The land he’s from is ablazing
With passionate waterfalls;
He ignores arabesques volcanoes
And prefers dark, dank, smelly halls.
At night when love stars are shining
And embraces are cheating sleep,
He shuffles alone from his crumbling abode
And recites to the empty plaza
A heartbreaking, angry ode:
“My dear one, my dear one –
I pulled off your wings! I stomped on your heart,
I stole back my ring . . .
My damned one, my sad one –
You should weep for me! I drowned my heart
Cause my tears made a sea!
And now all that’s left is an envy-green me.
The tattered old sack that I drag around
Is filled with the memories of the lost and the found,
Scraps of torn photos and lace valentines . . .
And my wrung-out old heart in a vinegar brine.”
Y2K IN RETROSPECT – THOUGHTS ON THE COLLAPSE OF CUCKOO KINGDOM
THE ACTIONS AND TRENDS AMONG HUMANS ARE OFTEN MYSTERIOUS, YET I HAVE COME TO SEE THAT ALTHOUGH WE CAN’T ALWAYS EXPLAIN OURSELVES, THERE IS A COMMUNAL SENSE THAT STIRS CIVILIZATIONS, AND PERHAPS CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS, TO TUNE IN TO SOME INNER GUIDANCE.
WITHOUT THE FOCUS ON Y2K PRIOR TO THE MILLENNIUM, OUR COUNTRY WOULD HAVE BEEN TOTALLY UNPREPARED FOR THE DEVASTATION WE DID NOT ANTICIPATE BUT EXPERIENCED ON 9/11/2001. WITHOUT FEAR ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF COMPUTERS AND TECHNOLOGIES CRASHING DUE TO THE PROGRAMMING QUESTION OF WHETHER THE LEAP FROM “99” TO “00,” OR 2000 WOULD SHUT DOWN OR DESTROY ESSENTIAL SYSTEMS, THE COMPUTERS OF AMERICA, AND WORLDWIDE, WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN BACKED UP. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE WORLD TRADE TOWERS AND THE ATTACK ON THE PENTAGON WERE PAINFUL, BUT WE DID NOT LOSE CONTROL OF THE STOCK MARKET, TRANSPORTATION, EMERGENCY RESPONSE OR COMMUNICATIONS FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD.
WHEN I SEE TRENDS IN OUR SOCIETY, I TRY TO LOOK DEEPER INTO WHAT THEY MAY ACTUALLY BE ABOUT. WHAT SUBTLE WARNINGS OR FORESHADOWING OF EVENTS CAN BE DECIPHERED? ALSO I HAVE BEEN FORCED TO LOOK MORE INTENTLY AT WHAT I AM CREATING/CHANNELING. WHILE MAKING THE PAINTINGS FOR THIS Y2K SHOW, I ALSO CREATED 70 IMAGES THAT SEEMED INTENSE BUT UNRELATED. I PUT THEM AWAY IN A BOX, AND FRAMED THE PIECES BELOW FOR A DECEMBER 1999 SOLO SHOW IN ASHLAND, OREGON. IN 2004 I INVENTORIED ALL MY ARTWORK AND FOUND THE 70 INK MONOTYPES, ALL WITH FIRES, DESTROYED BUILDINGS, PLANES AND TWIN TOWERS! HAVING NEVER FOLLOWED ACTS OF TERRORISM, IT WAS SURPRISING TO FIND THAT SOMEHOW I WAS PICKING UP YET NOT SEEING A GLIMPSE OF FUTURE EVENTS. THE COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUS AND THE “EXTENDED ANTENNAE” OF ARTISTS CAN BE A STRONG GUIDE FOR THE FUTURE.
Catie Faryl, January 2013
ART STATEMENT FOR “COLLAPSE OF CUCKOO KINGDOM” DECEMBER 1999
Y2K IS EVERY DAY
AN ALARM HAS BEEN SOUNDED BY THE MILLENNIUM CUCKOO. WILL OUR ENTRANCE INTO THE 21ST CENTURY BE DEVASTATING OR DELIGHTFUL? ONLY TIME WILL TELL. THE WORK IN THIS SHOW IS BASED ON MY IMPRESSIONS FROM RECENT ITEMS IN THE NEWS AND MY EXPRESSIONS OF FEAR AND HOPEFULNESS FOR A BRAVE NEW WORLD.
IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD Y2K IS EVERY DAY; POWER OUTAGES, LACK OF CLEAN WATER AND MEDICAL ATTENTION, FOOD SHORTAGES, POLITICAL UPHEAVAL AND WAR ARE COMMON OCCURRENCES. WILL OUR TECHNOLOGY BRING US TO OUR KNEES OR DO WE HAVE FAITH, TIME AND COURAGE ENOUGH TO BUILD A WORLD WHERE THE PRIORITIES ARE HEALTH AND WEALTH ENOUGH FOR EVERYONE? IS THE CHANGE FROM 1999 TO 2000 AS SIGNIFICANT OR DOES IT SYMBOLIZE DEEPER, SLOWER CHANGES IN IDEAS AND BELIEFS ALREADY UNDERWAY?
WHY “CUCKOO KINGDOM”?
– A TRUE STORY ABOUT THE TITLE “COLLAPSE OF CUCKOO KINGDOM”:
ONCE THERE WAS A SMALL SHOP CALLED CUCKOO KINGDOM. A LITTLE OWNER TRIED TO EKE OUT A LIVING SELLING MANY VARIETIES OF CLOCKS. THE SHOP EPITOMIZED ALL THAT WAS DARLING, QUAINT AND DYING IN THE END OF THE 20TH CENTURY IN SMALL TOWN AMERICA. THE ENDEARING ACCUMULATION OF CUTE, DECORATIVE ITEMS. THE BELIEF THAT SMALL ENTERPRISE COULD BE GOOD AND PROUD AND SUCCESSFUL. LIKE THE LOCOMOTIVE, THE TYPEWRITER AND FRAMED PICTURES, THERE REMAINED A CERTAIN NOSTALGIA BUT NO MARKET FOR THE CUCKOO CLOCKS. HOW COULD THIS SHOP BE SO SAD AND SO CHARMING AT THE SAME TIME, SO PATHETIC YET POIGNANT? SO MUCH EFFORT FOR SO FEW REWARDS, SHOPKEEPERS, LIKE ARTISTS, MAKE A GIFT TO THE COMMUNITY THAT MIGHT NOT BE MISSED UNTIL IT IS GONE.
THE FORCED IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION MAY BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY USING HYPE AND HYSTERIA ABOUT Y2K TO HIDE THE HUGE IMPACT OF THIS JOB-KILLING LEGISLATION. A NEW ORDER IS UNDERWAY. TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGING.
Catie Faryl Levitt
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. And now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known . . . . . . . .”
“And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
1 Corinthians 13, verse 11 and 13
This quotation returned to my attention in July 2009 while pondering my years of work with environmental, social and political issues. I was questioning the human ability to see what is actually real and how often we think we know the right paths to take, but are often disoriented and become lost or disillusioned. It seemed to me, that summer of 2009, we were at a crossroad or in a precarious balance – at the tipping point of seeing what could be done to stave off and heal the consequences of human-caused damage to the planet.
Creating art is a shamanistic duty and tradition that our culture must reclaim. An artist guide’s role is to visit the spirit world and the future to bring back positive messages, symbols, dreams and goals, remedies and “cures” for the tribe. In the summer of 2009, I observed the apathy, cynicism and inaction reflected in some people’s cavalier statements that “huge population die-offs were meant to be” or that “our human civilization either can’t pass or is undeserving of passing this evolutionary hurdle” and I could not let those beliefs go unchallenged.
Human beings, in my view, are noble creatures. We can embrace our role as Stewards of the Planet and look deep into our collective conscious to find answers to uphold the best future for all sentient beings and Mother Earth. We can think and act locally and sow seeds not of our differences but cultivate gardens where all can grow in peace and prosperity. Like nature’s bounty, love needs little tending in hearts that are willing and in minds that dare to imagine, not despair. Our energy can be gathered to see clearly and do the work that must be done.
“So let abide these three: faith, hope and charity.” We have seen things through a green but cloudy glass – confusing, disturbing, inconclusive – and now we are ready to move forward with courage in illuminated passages through these interesting times.
In 2006 I had this “epiphany”: People needed to stop arguing about whether Climate Change was real.
Instead of arguing about “Global Warming,” we could suspend our disbelief or zealous defense of the cause and simply call these weather and climate phenomena a more descriptive and encompassing name: GLOBAL WEIRDING!
GLOBAL WEIRDING cannot be refuted! You don’t need to believe anything, just observe what is right in front of your eyes. SEEING IS BELIEVING and the acceleration of disasters is the clearest message we have that Nature is not up for business as usual. The stakes have changed and reading our new situation is imperative.
The real challenge is to move in ways that are effective in restoring balance. Granted, it is difficult to convince people to change their habits or mitigate carbon releases into the atmosphere if they see no connection and, in effect, feel no personal power to impact or control their fate. Preaching to the choir, I showed this work to the Scientific Summit on Climate Change held at Southern Oregon University in 2007.
It was interesting to attend that conference and use the artwork for a colorful conversation starter during breaks and conversations with the scientific community. A key point of the conference was what could be done about the “gag order” that had been imposed by the Bush Administration, which had threatened to pull all grant funding from scientific studies who viewed climate change as real. Another was the problem of mainstream media, where the issue was rarely mentioned.
It’s interesting to write a current statement about my artwork. What I painted in 2006 was a forward look at what was about to happen. Truth makes a believer out of everyone, given enough time, and I feel proud to have done a small service in telescoping what I saw then in order to be just a tiny drop added to a raging torrent of publicity and activity directed at solving the problems of Global Weirding.
Note: Beneath the image gallery is a reproduction of my original comments to this exhibition.