Mixed media. 20″ x 24″.
Collection of the artist. As a child I built a lot of model airplanes using balsa and tissue paper. This is built mainly of pine and rice paper. It derives from the great fresco paintings by Giotto in the Arena Chapel in Padua. There are two beautiful paintings there The Visitation of St.Anna and The Birth of The Virgin. They depict an imaginary structure in which important events were said to have taken place. While I am not a religious person at all, I was raised Catholic by my Canadian/Irish mother. She was however the great great granddaughter of a Speagle/Spiegel of German/Jewish heritage from Strasbourg. So I grew up in the old manner where only Latin was used at mass. But with a father who was Japanese/American and an agnostic (at best), I did not fear the Lord in a proper Irish way. Later when family trees and DNA became the rage we found that our German lineage was in fact Jewish and Mom’s maiden name was really Spiegel. Still, I fell in love with Italy when visiting several years back and the art has always felt like family. So the idea that this structure was the house in which Mary was born struck me like a bolt of lighting. It was like seeing a photo of Abe Lincoln. I built the building using my best airplane techniques and prepared the walls for fresco. Well, I knew nothing about fresco but I had done about 5 or 6 egg temperas as an undergraduate. So I painted inside this little sanctuary with egg tempera. I did a little naked monk kneeling — that seemed right. Then as I always do (because I am more of a surrealist than anything), I put a noose around his neck and connected it to a barrel like kite up in the heavens. I don’t know what that means – – but I was taught by Dominican nuns who wore those ropes at their sides with which to flog themselves! Lastly I painted on the ground the radiating echo of a nuclear explosion – – because I lived in Washington DC just 4 blocks from the Nation’s Capitol – where the bomb would surly explode someday.
The painted sculpture is part of my series from the 1980s titled “Standing on Ground Zero”.