On the wall across from our bed hangs a painting that took me over ten years to complete. It’s not framed… yet, and I wonder why. I look at it multiple times every day and remember that our lives are not framed either. Our personal journey is an ever-expanding story that beckons to us when we forget to walk along unfamiliar paths. To frame these floating figures would be too much like throwing them into a cage, both my life and the painting.
There are four colors on the canvas, yellow, white, gold and red; lines create the figures, and dots float in form around each shape reminding me to fly. The painting rests on the wall at a slant, some days I straighten it but mostly I leave it crooked, not because I’m too lazy to fix it but because the painting seems to have a life of it’s own. As if it’s in perpetual motion, reaching out to me saying, ‘hey, you created me, now dance with me.’
This painting, more than others I’ve painted, haunts me – there are images of loneliness and happiness hidden beneath the paint that only I can see. Faceless figures with their backs to me; they do not speak, just listen to my soul. I am reflected through flat eyes of red – mirrored in outlines of white – the echo of my ancestors – the dreamers and artists, the storytellers and caretakers.
When I’m quiet I can hear the spirits whisper from my homeland far away. ‘Hush, hush,’ the winds from the great desert murmur, ‘listen to your beating heart – remember who you are.’ Sometimes these words are too painful to hear as my native spirit has weakened from the deep waters that separate me from my roots. I reach out to grab a strand of memory from a tuft that Wandjina brings to me in my dreams, just one – please… don’t let me forget my youth.
I awaken and see the painting on the wall. My fist is clutched tightly around emptiness – I release the muscles in my fingers and smile…