When I started this blog almost exactly 4 years ago (I just checked and I wrote my first post on January 22, 2012) I decided to call it The Wonder in Us. I was going to (b)log about, among other things, my pursuit of a dream/goal to become a successful print/pattern designer.
I don’t think I’ve ever explained that title choice. It doesn’t, at first glance, seem to have anything to do with my work. And now that I know (thanks to my hubby, who has become borderline obsessed …) a bit more about search engine optimization, I realize I could have scored more points with Google by choosing a slightly less abstract title.
But the fact that ‘the wonder in us’ is a little too abstract for the Googlebot is OK with me. I just think that I should explain to myself, as I’m writing this blog, and to you, if you’re reading it, why I chose this title, and why it still means something to me (even more than ever, in fact) four years later.
And I write this just a month or so before I roll out my new website/shop. This blog will be swallowed up into the new site, and will cease to exist as a separate entity. No more ‘wonder in us.’ But that’s okay, because ‘the wonder in us’ is part of my work and life, my whole philosophy of being. It’s what my over-sized flowers are all about. And so, late last year when we were making decisions about the new logo/identity, packaging, collateral materials and tagline that we’ll use from the launch of the new site, I came back to these same words that had meaning for me way back then, at the beginning of what has been, so far, a truly amazing journey …
But why? Somehow, this phrase captures what I’m trying to make, say or do … It’s time to be clear(er) about that. So yesterday, I sat down to hack away at my artist’s statement, which will have a prominent place on the new site. In it, I think I (start to) explain what ‘the wonder in us’ really means to me. So here’s a draft, subject to revisions:
Floral Prints by Ellie Cashman
Flowers are my subject of choice, as I see them not only as beautiful, but as powerful symbols that express the full range of human experience.
I’m always trying to convey some balance of hope and heartbreak in my work. For me, flowers are the utmost symbol of vulnerability and – at the same time – ultimate courage.
As they emerge out of the darkness and into the light, flowers provide us with powerful symbols of our common human longing for transcendence, for that brief experience of the divine, the moment we are closest to ‘God’, magic, enlightenment, nirvana … or whatever one might call it.
As did the still life painters of the Dutch Golden Age, I paint flowers in all their states, with an emphasis on those that break through this threshold from dark to light, from seed to stalk to bud to full, extravagant bloom. The shadows, and the darker states, are part of, and support and indeed exaggerate, this triumphant flower in the peak of its glory.
While it’s not without foreboding, all in all the imagery provides the viewer with a sense of hope and inspiration, encouraging her on toward her moment, when a bud bursts into full bloom and her heart breaks … open, when that strongest of human longings is fulfilled, and she achieves – even if just for a brief moment – the best expression of herself.
The splendor of that moment is indeed that it is so hard fought, and won. And as fast as it comes, it is gone again.
This is why we’re here; this is what we’re after – to love, to work, to do or make or give something that has meaning for another, and to participate in the endless cycle of birth, life, death and (re)birth, a cycle that connects us to all the living world.
This essential reason for being is full of contradictions: It is known to our hearts but a mystery to our minds. It is deeply felt but never fully understood. It is intensely personal, and yet utterly universal … We are, each and every one of us, in pursuit of it.
And because names for it are as elusive as the thing itself, I have come to call it ‘the wonder in us.’
© Ellie Cashman, 2016