Today, I Am Not An Artist. Today, I Am The Observer.

Lauren Clark’s illustration is composed of a central image of a jellyfish whose tentacles are the strings of the basket of a hot air balloon. Some of the tentacles float outward into the white space that is the background of the image. This adds a delicacy to the composition while creating a sense of movement. The jellyfish is gliding upward. It moves with ease while towing its woven weighted cargo.

The beauty of this image is the sense of one being the other. The impression is that the jellyfish is the hot air balloon. As though this jellyfish floats in the sea carrying the other creatures, or that this jellyfish has been excised from the sea to carry man and his material objects. The tentacles are not tied, tethered or bound into knots to the loops of the basket. There is a choice here both for the artist, and for the jellyfish. And now there is a choice, too, for the poet observer.

The image is created with what appears to be pen and ink. The artist used a combination of stippling with a light wash of watercolor over parts of the image. The slight watercolor wash creates a feeling of iridescent reflection with tones of pink, blue, purple and green. I am left with the impression of water while questioning the place of this creature in space. I am left wondering why this creature carries this cargo.

The surrealist base Clark is working from permits questions to enter and to linger. She juxtaposes two realms of water and air, while fusing nature and man’s creation. Specifically, man’s creation to exist in spaces of nature not intended for him.   The jellyfish cannot exist in air, nor can a hot air balloon exist in water. Through the artist’s overall composition and choices of white space, stippling and light wash of color on a centrally focused surrealist image I learn that this artist uses simplicity to draw the viewer into the implicit questions living within the piece.

These questions lead me to learn about the artist behind the image while reflecting back my own impressions of the piece as a source of uncovering a discovery of self. I am drawn in to this image. Upon opening the image I scrolled down in anticipation to finally see the piece I would be assigned to work with. At first I saw the beauty of the jellyfish, the hub of the base of the body. I continued to scroll down to see long tentacles. And there towards the bottom was the discovery or “ah hah” moment.   The tentacles wrapped about and floating around the basket. This is where my poet self entered the image. This was the first tinge of knowing there was work to be done, something to uncover.   The draw to want to sit and meditate on the piece to uncover a poem within the image struck me.

I began piecing a storyline, as the writer wants a story. The writer must find what is to be said.  I imagined the jellyfish at the base of the sea hovering over the balloon wreckage then wrapping her tentacles about the basket and propelling upward and upward towards the shore. The artist speaks in images to tell the story.  Clark’s image speaks to me. It asks me to question and probe further. I am pulled to go under the sea in the the realm of my imagination to pull up my own discovery buried in the sand amongst the coral. The journey of uncovering the piece has begun. I seek to find the source of the wreckage, as man’s lost basket becomes the jellyfish’s found treasure.  This is why, today, I am not the artist. Today, I am the questioning observer.

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