More from READING THE KEY: Learn To Read About It, Learn To Think About It

The People Learn to Read

from series: Reading the Key: An Exploration in Metal, Pigment, Paper

THE PEOPLE LEARN TO READ (24 x 48 mixed media on canvas)

There are several paintings so far in the Reading the Key series. The first one I completed is “The People Learn to Read.” With it’s intense hues and and cruciform composition, it explores the power of the written word to effect collective thought. It is a mixed media piece on canvas, 24 x 48 inches.

(READING THE KEY is my most recent series, and it includes paintings, small-scale metal sculpture, and jewelry.)

“The People Learn to Read” includes several pages from a 1949 world history textbook, a 1946 music textbook, and a page from The Bible. The history textbook pages explore academic presentations of the rise of Nazi power, the homecomings of broken soldiers, the challenges of disarmament, and the impact of Adolf Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kempf. Also included are textbook pages discussing a 16th century list, Index of Prohibited Books, issued by the Pope in an effort to insulate Catholics from heretical thought. In the midst of this is a section from the history textbook about the growth of literacy, the printing of more books and the development of more libraries. All of this “raised the general level of intelligence … bringing knowledge within the reach of all.” Coupled with the growth of newspapers and magazines, and the development of other media – radio, television, film – people for the first time saw actual combat and learned of historical developments sooner and in more detail than ever before. The human consciousness changed.

The cruciform composition, though aesthetically resolved, creates a sense of angst and conflict. There is a large painted key at the focal point, which features tones of bronze and silver, and nestled nearby is a page from the gospel of Luke, words of Jesus in red. “Peace be with you.”

Education changes consciousness, and more

There are several other paintings in this series exploring these same concepts. The key is a recurring icon, and the occasional keyhole. They also feature assorted types of vintage/antique text and images. I have taken these from textbooks, dictionaries, literary anthologies, poetry collections, the Bible, souvenir postcard sets, and photo albums.

The titles of the paintings include:

  • Education Changes Consciousness
  • Kingdom Mind (My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is)
  • The People Learn to Read
  • The Enlightenment of Gladys and Myrtle I & II
  • Think About Such Things
  • Knowledge Bath
  • Schoolrooms, or Cells and Gibbets
  • Land Dotted with Little Schools
  • First Love, Then Books

I learned recently that Henry Moore advised it a mistake for an artist to write or speak too much about her work, as it sucks away energy needed for the work. So, with that in mind, I will be blogging a little less frequently now so I can paint/smith a little more frequently. I have more paintings and pieces to share with you, so stay tuned (subscribe to the mailing list, if you wish).


~ by gingermeekallen on April 27, 2009.

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