At the time I began this deeply personal series I was wrestling with a lot of emotion. In the quiet of long steamy showers, I admitted to myself that I felt lost, and alone. I was depressed, and my hair came out in my fingers as I ran my hands through it. It stuck to the shower walls, arranging itself with steam and water, illuminating my insecurities and my profound ambivalence about who I am today- as a wife, a mother, a daughter, an artist. I thought about the life and the experiences that formed me- the “nest” so to speak, from which I became, and continue to become. I felt conflicted about that nest, the good and the bad. I had closed my eyes and my memories to past wounds, denying that they too were part of me. And as my hair drew connections and illuminated feelings for me, I couldn’t turn away anymore. I took pictures of the hair, and the shapes and forms I saw there. I drew them, painted them. And the hair itself- I couldn’t discard it, I didn’t know why, but it seemed important. So I saved it, a furtive pile growing under my bathroom cabinet. Eventually I realized that I needed to create something with that hair: that I needed to learn something. And so I began “k•not/nest.”
pen, watercolor on vellum wrapped mat board 5x7 ©Amy Kaplan All Rights reserved
pen, watercolor on vellum wrapped mat board 8x10 ©Amy Kaplan All Rights Reserved
pen, watercolor, gouache on vellum wrapped mat board ©Amy Kaplan All Rights Reserved
pen, watercolor on paper 18x24 ©Amy Kaplan All Rights Reserved
pen, watercolor on vellum wrapped mat board, 5x7 ©Amy Kaplan All Rights Reserved
pen, watercolor on paper 18x24 © Amy Kaplan All Rights Reserved
This piece is about the nest I grew up in and the nest I create for my family now. The flattened marble in the center is representative of me, a smooth cool surface, opaque but reflective, a participant yet an observer. My nest seems fragile: it is made of knots and braids. It circles around me and holds me within; but at the same time, it feels like I might fall through. Sometimes the braids and knots of hair soften the wire framework, and sometimes the barbs and hard edges poke through. The sparkle of a crystal, the misshapen drama of a natural black pearl; both are encompassed here, integral to my nest, just as the barbed wire is, and the hair that I lost, but refused to give up.
I created a branch stand out of wire and crystals for my nest to sit on. Is this a new sturdier mount? Or is it too, fragile or distorted? Can I create a sturdier nest for my family? For myself? Yes, I believe I can, but first I had to come to see the strength in my own fragility, and to recognize the beauty in my pain.