Reflections On The Light

by Sally Gilchrist

Hooks-Epstein Galleries
Houston, Texas
February 23-March 23, 2002

Inspiration, Juan Ramon Jimenez once said, "is like a momentary spark from a more perfect — and, perhaps, more enduring life. It is like a window of the soul open to a possible existence, an equanimous life which exists in theory, and where we could get to in the depths of our spirit." Leslie Field, in her recent body of work, Considering The Light, opens a window into an impersonal darkness yet takes us inward to a very personal and private stillness. She hints to us with a glimpse into the threshold of collective imagination that by follow­ing the "spark" we might find a doorway to true creativity.

Field is fascinated with the interplay of light and dark, not only externally, but also how the two echo one another from within. If light is illumination, it is essentially illuminating what darkness conceals and it plays a clarifying role. It is the light, however, in her photographs that illuminates and defines the dark­ness. For her this light within the dark­ness "symbolizes the emergence and evolution of the human spirit." The darkness is not destructive, but rather constructive, as a void or an absence, which is waiting like the womb to bring about birth.

Field works with internal light in mesmerizing ways leading us back in time yet simultaneously giving the pres­ent a very tangible weight. She cuts right to this core in the Building Block Series by tactilely uniting figuration and land­scape on wooden blocks with a waxen membrane. She looks without judgment at our heritage acknowledging the past in an impersonal way by using photographs of unknown people. Whether the rays are filtering through the trees of primeval origin or peering out from eyes of long ago she pays homage to the com­plex matrix of tradition, nature and the birth of our consciousness.

Field says she, "builds upon the past to illuminate the fragments of memory of those who have gone before and are a part of us." In Kiss You My Child, the fragment of face, hand and faint hori­zontal inscription are balanced by the verticality of nature in a warm honey-colored monotone. Even as each photo­graph is separate there is rhythm and movement, which seduces our eye into seeing them as one. The spaces become the geometric mesh without which there would be no sum. This happens over again in As A Young Boy, but with the addition of a delicate and powerful crop­ping in musical movement the piece goes one step deeper to fuse science with poetry and opera.

illuminate even the darkest corners illustrating the force behind inner strength and the triumph of good over evil. Frances Vaughan said, "I agree with Jung's statement that we do not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness con­scious. An authentic, vital spiritual life calls for bringing our shadows to light and discovering what they reveal."Certainly where art is concerned, the struggle that gives rise to challenging work cannot take place without respecting the good and evil within us. It is of light and dark organic matter of which we are comprised. Field's large black-and-white photo­graphs demonstrate deft skill to illus­trate this point. The commanding pieces are almost three-dimensional, as if one could walk through them into another space — another con­sciousness. Standing in front of the piece, Considering the Construction of Light, it feels almost like looking inside oneself. The blurred edges dif­fuse the margins and, like transparent bandages, cannot contain the inner energy welling from beneath. It is a sub­tle blending our soul. Does she use the words "intersection" and "intention" to define or to question the borders of light and dark? Undoubtedly those bound­aries are analogous to the slim division between nature and us. It is nothing one can cut with a knife, lest one cut oneself.

The robust planet "X" in Considering the Intersection of Light is spellbinding. Perfectly smudged at the core where the vortex is tightest, it taunts my mind with Mayan and Egyptian symbolism. The thick luminous intersection burns like rays through an opening in solid stone as perhaps channeling light from the cosmos. Like the brilliance of a star or planet the secret of its heart is hidden deep within it. It is pure energy emanat­ing out of sheer inner strength.

Both pieces, Considering the Move­ment and Intention of Light move beyond ethereal muscle to an aspect even more transcendent. It is the very flip side of the image that gives the work power and authority. It is our mirror image, the window of the soul, which undoubtedly leads to liberation or bondage. Is she reminding us that the duality our con­sciousness wrestles with every day defines us? How has she done this?

All of Field's work informs us of the enlightenment waiting in the shadowy wings of our own personal theater. The drama may be subdued, but by yielding to her command of restraint one is qui­etly seduced by the power of minimal­ism. Field not only communicates her own inspiration in these works, but she shows us how deep one must go some­times to find it. This work is an extraor­dinary, yet subtle invitation to embrace the void of darkness and to allow us a glimpse of our vital interior light.

SALLY GILCHRIST WORKS A PAINTER AND WRITER. SHE IS REPRESENT­ED BY HARRIS GALLERY, HOUSTON AND SARAH MORTHLAND GALLERY, NEW YORK. GILCHRIST PAINTS UNDER THE NAME STAUNTON GILCHRIST.

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