Art, War, Poetry, and Spirit

“Blood Red Bird with General Stilwell”
Tissue paper collage with acrylic paint and pasted images
copyright 2014, Molly Larson Cook

Winter turns into spring or close enough now, and the impulse to get back to the studio grows stronger. An artist friend in Seattle was recently in touch and wrote me about the small collages he’s doing. I started thinking again about my own collages, the ones that got me going those years ago.

The world situation right now is on my mind as well, and somehow the collages speak to me now in a different voice. To me, collages are storytelling art. You don’t have to agree with that, but it’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

I don’t think of myself as a political artist, but when I looked today at this one from 2014, it spoke to me in a way it did not then. I was not witnessing a merciless war in 2014. But something must have triggered the combination of the “blood red bird” with a picture of an American general from World War II.

Today, looking at it again, it seemed to suit the mood as I watched and listened to or read one story after another of what’s happening in Ukraine. None of it good. None of it pretty. This collage felt to me more like a story, more like a poem than a painting. Several years ago, I wrote a poem about a sadly similar time.

In the photograph,
the boy and his grandfather
touch hands between barbed wire.
Their fingers stretch,
cross plains of loss
toward solid ground.

Six thousand miles away
at the dining room table,
my grandson writes his name
in careful letters, while I,
alert for grinding sound of tanks,
reach out to touch small fingers.
–1998, Molly Larson Cook

Tonight, I am an artist and a grandmother and a woman with a broken heart about what’s happening those thousands of miles from my home.

I’m under no illusion…my art is not going to change a thing in Ukraine. Or anywhere else. And it’s unlikely to bring comfort to a single Ukrainian. But if I put nothing out there, then I know for certain I am not contributing, not even trying.

Artists and poets and writers are pretty darned good at standing up to those who want to take it all away. And I do believe that the spirit of art can travel long distances in ways we may never understand.

5 thoughts on “Art, War, Poetry, and Spirit

  1. Thank you, dear Michael…I meant to include music here as well…you are very right about that…Love you back.

  2. Very nice piece sweetheart it is so true that art can take you to places far away from the ugly and hateful places and things in your life and take you to somewhere peaceful and familiar music has that same affect also.
    Love you honey

  3. Very nice piece sweetheart art does transcend over anything and everything that is ugly or hateful and tends to take us to more tranquil surroundings like music in a way!
    Love you

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