Tarah Trueblood, one of my dearest friends, has interpreted my poem "For Our Hunger" as a 36" x 48" oil painting for her fine arts studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. It's a privilege to have a talented artist and thoughtful human engage so deeply with my poetry. Reading about the creative process Tarah engaged in as she visually represented her meditation on the words and structure of the poem enriched my understanding of my own work. It's also nice to know that visual artists, like writers, compose in drafts, returning to the work and changing it.
Enjoy the poem as well as Tarah's painting "For Our Hunger" (above), and her artist statement below, which provides a fascinating a glimpse into the role of creativity in her life, as well as detailing the creative choices she made for this painting.
For Our Hunger
will be taken
by the neck
in the end
but not before
our little morsel
to this world
Tarah Trueblood’s Artist’s Statement
About three years into my decade of practicing law in Sacramento, California, I realized I had cut myself off from the act of creating—of giving birth. I needed a creative outlet. One autumn I signed up for training to become a docent of the Crocker Art Museum. Every Monday morning for an entire academic year I slipped out of the law office and into the magic of the Crocker. There I was immersed in color, texture, landscapes, portraits, sculptures, abstractions, history, culture, artists, and meaning-making. My favorite room became the modern art gallery where I would sit for long periods of time--entering a canvas, dialoguing with the artist, creating meaning and story.
Then, my sister was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disease that destroyed her liver. While she was on the liver transplant waiting list, I created my first watercolor painting—more like a meditation really. Today, that is one of my favorite paintings and I named it after the name of the blood disease, Polysythemia—meaning too many red blood cells. The painting is dominated by chaotic forms and bloody shades of red. Yet, in its chaos, there is a large form that strongly resembles a fetus. My sister is still living and so is her daughter who was born shortly after Polysythemia was painted.
My sister’s illness inspired me to quit the practice of law in pursuit of something more meaningful. I chose to attend seminary in Berkeley to study theology, social justice, the arts, and meaning-making. That led to a career in higher education working with students to engage in the existential questions of life. Therefore, it is probably no surprise that for my painting class at Miami University, I chose to make a work that creates an experience of beyond, transcendence of the psychological consciousness of Same.
The content is drawn from the poem “For Our Hunger.” My first draft attempted to preserve the short lines and stanzas of the poem which resulted in a rigid visual grid. I began to eliminate the stanzas and line breaks to shift the focus to the visual content.
Ultimately, the goal was to communicate through content the poem’s meaning: life is full of hardship and yet we may discover ways to forge our suffering into beauty that nourishes our souls. Here are the choices I made to that end:
See more of Tarah's art at her Facebook page Trueblood Art Studio.
I began blogging about "This or Something Better" in 2011 when my husband and I were discerning what came next in our lives, which turned out to be relocating to Puget Sound from our Native California. My older posts can be found here.