Saturday, September 14, 2013

"We Dance to Pray"

We Dance to Pray, 2013, acrylic on drywall, approx. 9 x 13 feet
(photo: Karen Mauch Photography)

I'm just getting around to posting a good, full image of We Dance to Pray, my painting installation that is part of my current exhibition at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery, "Presence", and here it is. This is certainly one of my favorite pieces to have worked on, so far. To have the freedom to paint what I wanted directly on the wall at the gallery was a very liberating thing. I did a similar piece back in 2009-"This Moment" (a small partial image can be seen on the right hand sidebar of this blog),  but WDTP goes beyond the previous one in man aspects, but I just feel that it's a better painting.

Below is my statement for We Dance to Pray:

The studio is rarely silent when I’m working. Music fills the space from the moment I walk in and doesn’t end until I leave for the day. I listen a wide range of music, but the genre of House (and various sub-genres) dominate my studio listening most of the time.  When I was preparing a list of materials for this painting installation, the first thing on it was “iPod dock”-not brushes, not paints, but the music. It’s that important.

During the second day of working on “We Dance to Pray”, Bridgette asked me if I had a title for the piece and I said that I didn’t. I almost never choose titles before I complete a piece. However, the question did trigger the naming process and before I was finished, the painting had a title. “We Dance to Pray” is a lyric from a house tune that I don’t remember the name of, but it stuck with me as I navigated the layers of this piece and remained strong even as I completed the painting.
“We Dance to Pray” isn’t a direct interpretation of music. However, the overall sense of the painting feels musical. The underlying structures form a basic beat that is changed and multiplied in the three sections of the top layer. We Dance to Pray as a title suggests the ecstatic, near-religious experiences that some forms of dancing can enhance, and is particularly resonant in much of house music, especially in soulful, vocal house. Vocal house links directly to the musical traditions of the black church with its joyful exuberance, uplifting tempos and positive outlook. House is like the secular version of religious music, only more outwardly sensual in its embrace of life. Instead of a church, house brings us to the dance floor, where we dance to release the demons of a stressful life, let ourselves go and offer up thanks the release. We dance to pray.

Tim McFarlane
August 2013

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