For FALL 2010's delicious offerings of books, art, food, film, and unique travel--check out the NEW ISSUE of our online magazine FEAST--you will not go away hungry-- http://www.feastofbooks.com/

Between issues, read our blog posts as we and our special guests share thoughts, ideas, and recommendations about books, art, food, film, and travel. We love to hear from our readers, so please post a comment! Thanks-- Rosemary Carstens, editor

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Snax Online is undergoing a redesign and will be moving to a new location. Check back from time to time for a link. In its new format, this blog will cover a wider range of topics but also its usual five. In the meantime, keep up with what's happening in the world of books, art, food, film, and travel at http://www.FEASTofBooks.com --

See you in 2011!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

At the Edge of the Spotlight: Canadian artist Emily Carr

The Forest Lover (Viking 2004) by Susan Vreeland, is a page-turner if you love art history and always long to know more about the painter behind the image. This is the captivating story of legendary painter, Canadian artist Emily Carr, who was passionate about recording the totems and lives of the native peoples of British Columbia in the early part of the 20th century. Carr has been compared to Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe (see Carr, O’Keefe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own [Yale University Press 2001]) and her work is exceptional and surrealistic in both content and style. She garnered little recognition in her lifetime because of her unusual subject matter and unorthodox lifestyle, and because she brought sophisticated techniques of surrealism learned during a stay in Paris to what was essentially an artistic backwater.

The author, Susan Vreeland, has written several “imagined” biographies either about famous artists or people in their closest circle. Her best known may be Girl in Hyacinth Blue, the imagined story of the girl in Vermeer’s painting by the same name. Perhaps the author’s greatest strength is found in her ability to turn well-grounded and thorough research into a compelling story—in this case, a story about a woman artist struggling to follow her passion, relieve her personal sense of isolation, and gain recognition for her talent.

Vreeland tells us in her own words what her research into her topics has taught her:

“Entering the mind and heart of painters has taught me to see, and to be more appreciative of the beauties of the visible world. . . . people are hungry for [the] real lives behind . . . paintings. . . . . And [I’ve especially learned] this: Thanks to art, instead of seeing only one world and time period, our own, we see it multiplied and can peer into other times, other worlds which offer windows to other lives. Each time we enter imaginatively into the life of another, it's a small step upwards in the elevation of the human race. . . . Where there is no imagination of others' lives, there is no human connection. Where there is no human connection, there is no chance for compassion to govern. Without compassion, then loving kindness, human understanding, peace all shrivel. Individuals become isolated, and the isolated can turn resentful, narrow, cruel; they can become blinded, and that's where prejudice, holocausts, terrorism, and tragedy hover. Art—and literature—are antidotes to that.”

It’s an insightful philosophy and one I have certainly connected with in my own writing and reading experiences. Watch for Vreeland's next enticing book, titled In Tiffany’s Shadow (due out 2010), about Louis Comfort Tiffany the glass artist whose windows, lamps, and mosaics blended Art Nouveau and the Aesthetics Movement to produce a unique style all his own.

For more information: http://www.svreeland.com/


Jerrie Hurd said...

I'm always richly educated both by the books and the subjects you explore. Emily Carr is someone I need to know better.

sibylle said...

Haven't read this, but she sounds fascinating.

ClaireWalter said...

The Vancouver Art Museum had an Emily Carr exhibition once when we were in B.C., and then, when we were in Victoria, we visited her home. I hadn't more than heard her name before that trip, but afterwards, I felt as if I knew her.