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Thursday, 2 January 2014

growth rings....

Wendy Stefansson. Growth Rings. Wooden matryoshka dolls, burned. 2001.
Photo by the Peace River Record-Gazette.

I completed Growth Rings when my daughter was very small.

Matryoshka dolls are traditionally interpreted as representing multiple generations of women within the same family; or alternatively as a group of sisters. They are representations of generativity and fertility. Of fullness and hope for the future.

In this work, though, I used them as a composite self-portrait. Each one expresses an earlier incarnation of my self. The outer one represents motherhood, at that time the newest stage in my life, both containing and concealing all that I had been before that moment. On the back of that one, the world egg is broken open. The next one (a woman giving birth to the world) represents my art-making. On the third one I depicted myself as Sisyphus, daily rolling the weight of the world up a hill. This was how my early teaching career felt. After that (before that, inside that) are depictions of me stepping lightly on the world (travel and discovery), me learning about the world through books (studying, dreaming, becoming), me as a toddler pulling the world around in my little red wagon.

The littlest one is dark and difficult to know. This is the spirit or soul, newly born from the void: whatever it is that is at the core of a being. Of my being.

“‘I don’t know what the soul is. But I imagine that somehow our bodies surround what has always been.’”  (Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces

The origin. Eternity. Infinity. Backwards and forwards, pulsing inwards and outwards, contained in this moment in time.

Wendy Stefansson. Growth Rings. Wooden matryoshka dolls, burned. 2001.

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