I decided to make a collage-painting that illustrated disconnection. I’m trying to separate myself from loyalty cards. I’m trying to speak about how present they are, and how mindless. How their very presence causes us to not be present at all. If we are truly concerned about corporations stealing our identity and information, we have to stop using loyalty cards. They don’t have to steal our information when we give it to them willingly.
Also, this collage speaks about how impermanent things are. We thought Blockbuster would last forever. It has now been erased by Netflix, On-demand, and Amazon Prime. Who needs physical copies of movies anymore? You can watch whatever you want to watch, whenever you want to watch it.
But be mindful here. “They” can see what you are watching. Look at your iTunes library. It will tell you how many times you have listened to a song. No more anonymous entertainment. This too speaks to how connected we are, and not in a healthy way. We need to break free to find our own voices.
I used a painting that I had worked on before. It was a quick one, and I learned a lot when I made it, but I needed to use something for this project. I don’t have unlimited space or funds, so I didn’t start a new purpose-made canvas just for this project. I needed to double up.
I started painting swirls and designs on it, using a technique I figured out from another project. That alone was helpful – my mistakes from a previous project helped me improve this one. To get swirls and lines of color in one stroke I put three different colors next to each other on my palette (a parmesan cheese container) and put the paintbrush in the middle, catching a bit of each color on the brush.
I painted “light language” in the top left, but I’m learning that painting doesn’t get the same effect as writing with my finger or a chopstick or a Sharpie. I can only “pull” with a loaded paintbrush. “Pushing” ruins the lines and makes them spread out. I was reduced to half letters, lines, and dots.
I put in some five-rayed things – hands, burning bushes, rising son, cactus. I kept trying to make a hand and finally realized I didn’t have to make it up. I could use my own hand as a model. Sometimes I make things far harder on myself, thinking I have to do it all from scratch.
I painted some spirals as well. These were fun. I was able to “push” the paint, not caring about the design widening out. By this point I’d apparently committed to the theme of five main things.
Then I wrote the Hebrew letters ה ב ד י נ ת
They are hey, bet/vet, dalet, yud, nun, taf, or to make it even simpler, h, b/v, d, y, n, t.
I wrote these letters because they are some of the ones that I have problems with. I feel that half the Hebrew alphabet looks the same to me. Instead of dealing with similar letters in the English alphabet like b, d, p, and q – which all have a circle and a line, so look very similar if you are dyslexic, fully half of the Hebrew alphabet looks like a box with various sides present or absent. It is very confusing for me.
I did this randomly, without any plan. I thought it might be cool to write real words that are meaningful, but I was in the middle of the project and the paint was drying, so I didn’t want to slow down. I was going for visual effect at this point, not meaning.
Little did I realize there was far more meaning than I could have planned. Not planning it out has taught me that if I let go, I’ll get far more meaning than I could have ever imagined. It gives me hope that God has a plan and is working through me. It makes me feel not alone. Strangely, this piece about being dis-connected makes me feel even more connected.
I decided to see if the letters I wrote were a word. I wrote them left to right, which is opposite how Hebrew is written. I decided to look them up in Google Translate both ways. I started with how I’d written it, and I was putting in one letter at a time. I was copy-pasting from Wikipedia’s article on the Hebrew Alphabet, as I couldn’t figure out how to get those letters out of my qwerty keyboard.
Then things started to get really interesting. And weird. And a little scary.
Google Translate started translating as soon as I put in the first letter. I put in the Hebrew letters, but to make it simpler here I’m going to use the English equivalents.
H meant “the”
The second letter is a b or a v, depending on whether it has a dot in the middle or not. I decided to go for b at this point. I later used v and got no results, so I’m glad I went with b on my first try.
Hb meant nothing, but Google Translate depicts that as two straight vertical lines – which looks like 11, a significant number for me.
Hbd meant “canvas”
Hbdy meant “test for”
Hbdyn meant nothing.
And hbdynt means “Lebedyn” – a Ukranian city.
I hadn’t written gibberish. I’d written a real word – a name of a town I’d never heard of. And most of the letters along the way meant words that spoke to what I was doing.
I was a little weirded out. But I decided to put in the letters as if it was a Hebrew word, so going from right to left. One at a time, I put them in and got even more interesting results.
t means “a”
tn means “Bible”
Tny means “give”
And tnyd means “Nod” – a town.
The rest meant nothing.
Nod refers to a few things – one of them being the character in the nursery rhyme, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. Nod is also the town to which Cain was exiled, East of Eden, after killing his brother Abel. “Nod” is the Hebrew root of the verb “to wander”, and indicates taking up a wandering life.
According to Wikipedia – “One of American writer John Steinbeck’s most famous novels is East of Eden. The betrayal of a brother is one of its central themes.”
All of this is speaking to me right now. My feeling of being betrayed, by people I should be able to trust. My wondering if I should find a new job or try to start an independent business.
As for the words, what do they mean? Give a Bible, or a Bible gives? Seek the answer in the Bible, is what I’m getting out of that. And the first set of letters? The canvas test for? Or test the canvas? The canvas has the answers – keep painting and doing collage. There is healing there. So I need to combine the Bible and canvas – read and create. Read what others have drawn down, and draw down my own revelations.
And trust the process. Trust that God has got it all, and God is leading me in the right place. I ended up with cities, not stuck on the edge of nowhere. I ended up safe, even though it wasn’t where I thought I’d end up. In fact, I didn’t know where I was going, so I’m lucky I ended up anywhere at all.
Later, I attached the loyalty cards and other ephemera. Some of them are mine, some are ones I found while cleaning out the drawers at work. I’d considered using all my actual loyalty cards, to give it more energy. I’d already removed them from my keychain and put them in my craft room. The problem is, I’ve lost them. I felt a little fear about having lost them, which only speaks to their power. If I’m afraid of someone hacking my information from them, then why am I using them?
I thought about cutting up the cards to give them even more feeling of being dis-connected. I also thought about randomly arranging them in jarring ways and angles, but I felt that making them properly horizontal or vertical looked better. I also don’t have a market for this, so I’m going to have to look at it for a while. I don’t want to look at disharmony and chaos in my craft room. I get enough of that at work.