Saturday, October 27, 2012

Asleep in the Chamber of Mirrors

(Asleep in the Chamber of Mirrors) Moonlight Becomes Frost Becomes Apple Pie Becomes Moon Cake Becomes Moonlight
Polyptych of four panels
Gouache and acrylic on paper mounted on birch panels
24" H x 24" W

The 11th from the series Red Bean Paste and Apple Pie.

Yeah, I know the title is a mouthful, but I wanted to convey the complexity of the idea of 'home.'

The Moon Festival on the lunar August full moon (usually occurs around September or October in the western calendar) is one of the most important Chinese holidays. People make their way home from wherever they are, often traveling for days for the round trip. So the ideas of moon and home are always entwined. The equivalent in the west might be the harvest moon, also an important time traditionally as people gathered to help each other harvest.

There's a famous Chinese poem by Li Bai that translates as:

Before my bed a pool of light –
Can it be hoar-frost on the ground?
Looking up, I find the moon bright;
Bowing, in homesickness I am drowned.

(Translation by by Li Ziliang, Li Gouqing and Zhao Feifei, from "Chinese Literature, Cultural China Series". I found it on this page.)

To me, there are just so many similarities between these two traditions, even down to the sweets we eat — moon cakes for Moon Festival, and apple pie in autumn. Moon cakes are pastries filled with a variety of fillings, from red bean paste to salted duck eggs, lotus seeds, durian fruit, etc. I wanted to create a piece that addressed these similarities.

There are many things I could draw on, to pair the 'equivalents' between my home here in Oregon/US and my home in Taiwan. I ended up choosing moon cake & apple pie, the statue of liberty and the big stone statues of Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy), the mountains (Mt. Hood and garden rockeries that are meant to represent mountains):

Breaking with previous pieces, instead of a medallion, I'm putting a heart in the center:

The moon cakes, apple pies and other details are going in:

The statues are going in:

The bed, the frost, the halos around the moons:

The finished piece is the image at the top, with the moon represented as floral structures.

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