Thursday, August 21, 2008

Objects of Affection, Part 5

I walked over to the shelf and picked up the Halls refrigerator pitcher ...

When you see a painting in an art book and then see it on the gallery wall, it is transformed. It comes alive. Time falls away, and you see the canvas fresh from the hand of the painter. The image bypasses the intellect and shoots straight to the instinct, speaking from the painter’s heart to the viewer’s, a one-on-one conversation in the wordless language of the soul. 

A great work has the power to stop me in my tracks. But nothing prepared me for the electricity of holding that form in my hands. You can’t tell in the photograph that it starts out a rounded square at the base and tapers into a trapezoid, squeezed not by geometry but by the shape of the hands which hold it. The fluid curves are made to be held. The sides give inward to form a place to grip and pour. The spout pulls slightly downward in a petulant lip. The lid sits softly on top, following the undulating line of the pitcher’s upper edge like a well-rehearsed tango partner. You don’t see these things in a photograph.

We sit, encircled by a life’s work. Sara against a backdrop of iridescent glazes, Eva with a vase beyond, glowing dull and luminous in the darkness. The quiet voices of the master-women...and the quiet voices of the objects shaped by the gesture of dancing hands. Created as gifts to the world. I sit, absorbing a steady radiation of love.

I had described in a letter to Eva my idea of "objects of affection." She talks about these now, referring to them as "affectionate objects." I try to correct her until I realize the meaning revealed by the transposition of those words. My objects of affection are things that I take pleasure in. Passive things. Eva’s affectionate objects speak actively. As I sit in that room listening to Eva and Sara talk, I am struck with an overwhelming, palpable affection from every thing surrounding us. That forms can be created which speak so eloquently – I never knew. The experience of it sinks home to me the active power that an object can project, if it is from the hand of a master of expression. We sit, surrounded by the quiet, lively chatter.

to be continued ...

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