Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Search Within

     "The nature of creation is that you have to go inside and dig out. The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it’s a painful, difficult search within."                                                  — Louise Nevelson, Dawns & Dusks by Diana MacKown, 1976, p.72    

    I have made a greivous mistake.  I was distracted by the scarves, the quirky quotes, the overdone eye makeup.  I had writer's block, and so to get out of that rut, I typed in the word "hellion" on  That was what my initial research determined- that Louise Nevelson was a provacateur, a rascal.  Louise Nevelson is no hellion.  She's just herself.  She says what's on her mind, without much editing.   Louise Nevelson embodies all that is complex, intelligent, creative, and determined.  I was dead wrong about her; I only skimmed the surface. 
    Louise was a woman who was always on the outside of things.  She moved to Rockland, Maine from Russia when she was six, not speaking English.  She was immersed into a rural American culture with immigrant parents (where, incidently, she had a few run-ins with classmates over her fashion sense).  During her childhood, her father had a lumberyard where she built odd things out of the scraps left over. 
     After she met Charles Nevelson in her twenties, she realized that the married with children status did not suit her personality, so she left for Europe to study art.  (Charles went his own way, and her son was raised by her parents.)   At this point, you just have to believe that Louise was liking the outsider status. 

Nevelson, Luminous Zag, 1971

     During the 30's and 40's when Weezy started to step out in her own way artistically, she was not well-recieved.  Perhaps the female artist label affected the way others embraced her and her artwork, but I think that anything that is out of the fad-of-the-moment (in other words, anything that is too innovative) needs some time to break through.  She returned to New York and worked for almost 30 years before she saw any real success or positive notoriety from her artwork.  Most of the portraits that we see of Louise were taken during this famous period of her 70's and 80's when she was actually making some of the most gloriously entrapping pieces of her career. 
     I don't think that Louise ever really minded the struggle of creativity, or ever really that she wasn't well-received in the beginning.  What I've noticed about all of the artists that I've ever researched is that they are stubborn as hell.  I ponder at times over the daily struggles that these artists went through previous to their success.  Louise was one of the lucky ones who actually got to experience the accolades before passing at the ripe old age of 89.  Think about that poor guy Van Gogh.  He was tortured for years and never experienced any sort of appreciation for his life's work.  No wonder the guy cut off his ear and shot himself in the chest.

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