November 15, 2012 / 18″ H x 32″ W / Found Objects and Acrylic
“Buckle For Safety Baby Boys Born Of Artist And Musician Parents In The Electronic Age” is a piece encapsulating one of the new directions I’m exploring in my artwork. I’m interested in interweaving every day mass produced objects that have a personal connection to my life and cementing them into an artistic piece. In a sense they are pages from a diary or a scrapbook page representing events that shaped what was, not so long ago, my life as a mother of very young children.
Within four years I had three beautiful boys to call my own and care for the best I could. Combining my huge learning curve with extreme lack of sleep – but a monumental desire to be a good parent – I look back with compassion and humor.
“Buckle For Safety” materialized from the parental desire to keep a baby alive and the manufacturing/advertising worlds encouragement through warnings of helping you, as a parent, do just that. On the car seat there are warnings plastered in every corner in English and Spanish of what will happen if you don’t use it correctly. I remember one day forgetting to buckle Chase into his seat and finding out what I had done once we arrived home. Thoughts of death, jail and my life being over throbbed through my mind. Of course it is important to buckle and we make sure that we do. But through a new mother’s exhausted mind, the serious responsibility and my response to them back then, it can take on a comic luster today. The use of several buckled seat belts and my musician husband’s equipment cords represent my over zealousness to keep those baby boys safe and alive.
Working on the piece also brought up other images and emotions stemming from both practicality and passionate artistic interests. The infant has a common baby toy ring in one hand and a paint brush near the other. Representing my dichotomy of an obvious diligence to provide proper childhood developmental toys to benefit their growing minds and fine motor skills, contrasted then with the side of me that I couldn’t hide from my children if I wanted. The bit in me that is unconventional, no matter how much I’d try to blend into our wonderful and very conventional suburban environment.
As I painted the yellow (representing the sun and nature) above the infant’s head, a feeling of spirituality and immense love for my children over took me. The yellow dabbed on the baby’s forehead, nose, mouth, throat, fingers and toes is a sort of my own nature blessing that seems to be found in many religions under various names and techniques. The motivation and practice of blessing I imagine comes from a similar source in humans worldwide.
I also began to see the car seat as a chariot. A golden chariot of mythological times with bits of red representing longevity. A magical seat that cold take them to many places and on many adventures. As I placed the pieces surrounding the infant I felt as if I was laying sacred and utilitarian objects for use in the next life. Not that the baby had died. But that time in their life and my own life of taking care of little infants is now over, and now those objects are part of the past and pasted in my scrapbook creation.
I was reading a lot of memoirs and Brenda Knight’s WOMEN OF THE BEAT GENERATION before I created this piece. The memoirs inspired me to want to write about my life, but I believe I am a better and more natural visual artist than writer, so I took to my art studio rather than the pen. WOMEN OF THE BEAT GENERATION inspired me to be more daring and take a new direction. I am very thankful to Brenda Knight and all those amazing women’s lives she wrote about – Carolyn Cassady, Jay DeFeo and Madeline Gleason to name a few.
But the biggest inspiration was my three boys – Chase, Charley and James. I am forever grateful for those busy little guys that have challenged my mind and physical stamina in ways that have only benefitted me and stretched me into a better person. Of course, though, I could never do any of this with out my remarkable and talented musician husband Mr. Joel Sayles. And can’t forget my free thinking eternally refreshing Dad – Stewart Turnquist and full of gumption and spark Mom – Alena DeCandia.
Being that I’m a big believer in acknowledging helpfulness and it’s Thanksgiving time, a few more thanks are necessary. As I had already given away my boys’ car seat, I owe many thanks to Lisa Maiser who graciously gave me her infant car seat and her daughters’ old dolls and toys. And a huge thanks to my lovely lifelong friend Kim Harbinson who has always supported my artistic endeavors with applause and encouragement. That goes the same for Kristi Allen, my overseas correspondent Sandy MacMillan, my brother Dan Turnquist, my sister Sarenja DeCandia and brother in-law Shane Betz.