Helen Hawes: Moving Towards a Deeper Connection
C: Helen, these works on paper -- these five Pink Passions -- look so playful and effortless. What was going on inside while you were drawing?
H: I was not actually drawing. I was playing with the marks, listening, and allowing them to unfold. I remember distinctly the very day, many years ago, when making art stopped being a struggle. As I was arguing in my head about what to do next, I distinctly heard the drawing say, "Ask me." Like a breath of fresh air, I realized it wasn't all "on me." I could be having fun. After years of practice, if I stayed with it, it would grow into something beautiful. The drawing knows the way!! The drawing is happening now! What fun, never the same, always a surprise, opening and stretching my notions of truth.
C: What is beautiful to you?
H: Any form that grows from lines or marks that are allowed to follow their true nature in the moment -- not forced into a shape or form that someone else has established -- is the right way to be. Any person, if you look and listen closely, is beautiful in their own unique, sometimes joyful, sometimes painful way.
C: Tell me a bit about these five drawings: From left to right they are "Pretending," "Dreaming," "Gossiping," "Unravelling," and "Opening."
H: There is an aliveness and freedom that is very seductive in these five Pink Passions. But those titles are just a suggestion. Each person can see what is there for them as the lines are not written in stone, not solid and still. When they were forming, I was not attached to any concept or idea; I was waiting to see where they would lead me. Each viewer can do the same. It is very liberating. There is no right or wrong about it.
C: How about this sculptural installation? This is quite a departure for you. What was the impetus that moved you from 2-D to 3-D?
H: It was the power of clothes pins! I was working on a book of drawings, "Love's Body," and the pages were curling up, so I tried to flatten them using clothes pins. I left it overnight, and in the morning removed the pins. Now the book looked different; I missed the power of the clothes pins. I put them back on, and -- bingo! --the book came to life. It was as though the clothes pins were conduits to the real world the ordinary, everyday world and the book, an ode to my body, were connected.... The book holds drawings of everday miracles, things we overlook, like fingernails, bones and their personalities, intricacy of wrinkle patterns in our skins, and most of all, the way these different beautiful parts work together. We often even miss the larger body (love's body) of which we are all a part.
C: In this installation, when we combine the sculpture and the soft drawings, aren't you worried that the drawings might be overlooked next to the allure of "things" in the world?
H: Exactly. Such is life.
C: What about all the other parts of the sculpture -- Michael's toaster and his suit coat?
H: When Michael and I unexpectedly broke up after five or more years of being together, I was angry and sad. I smashed his toaster and cut up his suit, but the cathartic high was short-lived. I knew that at some point I would thank Michael. I knew this was the beginning of a new metaphor for me, and that meant expansion of who I know myself to be. I stayed with the suit and toaster and began to tape over the remains of the disaster. As I taped, I felt like I was wrapping a baby in swaddling clothes. The transformation of these objects became a way of moving from "victim" to "receiver of gifts." They are connected to my art -- life events and the drawings feed each other. Through wire and tape conduits, they wind in and out, joining outer and inner worlds into one. The playful characters that have emerged are open to many different kinds of dialogue. I invite viewers to enjoy whatever comes to them through their eyes and hearts!
C: It seems you have an interesting relationship with the world. Your world seems filled with no end of potential metaphors, chances to dialogue and grow.
H: Exactly. I think that 24 hours a day I am receiving messages, metaphors that -- if I follow them -- will lead me towards a deeper connection with infinity. We can and do play together. That's what life is!
Copyright 2010, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont