The Mundane Unbound

“Whatever your eye falls on — for it will fall on what you love— will lead you to the questions of your life, the questions that are incumbent upon you to answer, because that is how the mind works in concert with the eye. The things of this world draw us where we need to go.”      -- Mary Rose O’Reilley

“What I do not see I do not know.”    -- Hildegard of Bingen

It has been a little awkward lately. I have been getting the oddest looks when I tell those that ask, that I’m doing small paintings of dog bones.

My mother was a saver, she didn’t like to throw anything away. She saved the normal stuff like paper bags but she also couldn’t let the elastic from my father’s underwear be wasted, so she put that to re-use, along with many other items. From the Thanksgiving turkey she saved the neck bones for me, drying them out on our mammoth furnace in the basement. I loved those bones, I couldn’t get over what they looked like, they seemed so unlikely to be functional. They were beautiful, I made necklaces out of them.

As our dog Lucy lost interest in her marrow bone, I’d stack it up on the window sill. Before long there was a slew of them. Initially it was the form that held my attention. I simply enjoyed looking at them, but before long I started drawing and painting them. That fact that they are simply bones, yet something so much more has sustained me for over two years.

So I empathize with the odd looks, but it is clear these bones are drawing me to where I need to go. I also know, that the multi-layered aspect of these paintings holds the key; that color, light, its companion shadow and juxtaposition are at play.

I am transported beyond these bones as simply elemental objects to a place where the mundane is unbound.

Judith Bowerman is an active artist and teacher and is currently teaching at Minnechaug Regional High School. She earned a MFA in painting from University of Massachusetts after a bout of baking at the Buttercup Bakery in Oakland California.

She has lived in Springfield since 1980, has three daughters and is on the verge of moving to Cummington with her favorite dogs — Yuki and Lucy and with her husband Larry Slezak.