I wanted to go into the back story on this one piece a little more.
It’s an American bison skull, which mostly doesn’t have much meaning besides the part where I was looking for Americana elements and their skulls are rad. The whole foundation of the piece has to do with marriage, however. A previous skull and rings drawing of mine, promises, was birthed for the same reasons, actually. Months had passed, but I remained stuck on the same thoughts about marriage that were battering my mind, and ideas and concept, and I wanted to execute it a little differently.
The rings are obviously symbolic of marriage and are overlapping for a little ‘infinity’ action. The skull is symbolic of ’til death do us part’. The words around it are the bits that need a little additional explanation though: the simple symbols above the words are viking runes, part of the viking alphabet (if you will). I wrote the name of the rune below it as well as the meaning – or the meaning I was going for, as they each hold multiple meanings. There is ING (work), GEBO (marriage), MANNAZ (family), and NAUBIZ (need). The massive pull for including NAUBIZ was the actual symbol, however. A bit of a crooked cross, which for whatever reason just leaps at me like an old driftwood cross of a tired working man who has never forgotten his need for Jesus. I placed it at the bottom so it can hold the rest.
Why marriage has been so assaulting to my brain lately is a subtle mystery, and also just an obvious part of growing old I think. Old, as in I turned 25 this year, so not actually old at all but old enough that I think my mind and body are transitioning further into adulthood and actually wanting that companionship in a newer way than I have before. It’s also been heavy on my mind as I observe all my friends relationships around me (I only have one female friend in Spokane who is unmarried, all the rest are totally and unequivocally hitched), and also watch some of those relationships fall apart. The discussions between us have a new weight and authenticity as these choices are very real, and very heavy.
Some relationships are amazing, and some really just don’t work. And ya know, to a degree sometimes I think that’s okay. The thing about the failed marriages that has kept me from sleep some nights however, is when the reasons seem to be little more than a desire for personal happiness on behalf of one person, and the seemingly unrelenting selfishness on their part to pursue that without regard to their spouse, families, friends, or promises. Without judging individual circumstances, and realizing (hopefully) there’s more to it than that, this still leaves me with an incredible amount of nausea.
And that’s sort of where this piece came from. It came from a very real and sincere ache in my heart and inability to sleep. It came from a place of still hoping and wanting to believe that commitment means something real, and the old Arab adage ya’arburnee* could still hold weight in the hearts of men and women. Or even girls and boys? Do they still have hope for fulfilling and healthy relationships? God I hope so.
My heart aches because my friends hearts are aching, and my heart hurts because it can be hard to not be afraid the same thing will happen to me. Sometimes it feels like my options are to marry HOPEFULLY the ‘right’ man and risk the greatest failure of my life, or just remain single and avoid it. Both suck. But when the risk is put in those terms, the risk sucks more, and the risk becomes too risky. But being single for the rest of my life is not exactly the raddest option either.
I guess really, what those nights came down to was a half written letter as a plea to married people to stay together and not get lost with the wind, and to help me believe in promises again. And it came down to making art. Some art that will be seen, and some that won’t.
I guess my point is this: I still believe love can be selfless, and giving, and caring, and encouraging, and supportive, and absolutely committed. I still believe there are people who every day that they wake up both decide to choose the other person and love them best. They both do, equally, at the same time. And that in the shitty parts and the days where both people just suck, they still would rather go home to that annoying spouse than anyone else.
And I think, ultimately, that’s what this piece represents.
* ya’arburnee: arabic “may you bury me”, essentially meaning “I hope I die first, because to be left alone without you would be more than I can bear.” A piece coming from this word will surface shortly.