Apr 092008

The polished transcendental look of the magical realist pieces gives way to grittier coloring and more down to earth feel in the book covers. Here blue and gray tones do not symbolize or portend cold and hostility; they depict them as it is, or was — conceived in the authors’ minds. I haven’t read “The Crucible” but I have seen the movie, starring my favorite actor, Daniel Day-Lewis, who was also a relative of Arthur Miller (who himself adapted the play to the screenplay) by marriage. The actor gave an intense performance and I recognize some of that intensity in the image below: one person is determined to oppose an entire community, to either defy or subdue it in God’s name. Because the huts and the houses are only visible on the fringes, it may appear as if the woman’s frame pushes them out, small and shabby, as if by the force of will and personality. Thus the painter effectively condenses one of the major themes of the narrative into a singular composition.

book cover the crucible miller village witch hunt

The dependence on a known narrative lends these paintings more general compositional qualities as well. I think that the most interesting of them is the peculiar lack of a strong center, a lack which denotes the images as rather flat (I admit that this is a very subjective viewing). We see augmented focal points, which seem to lead nowhere (or to very sketchy and distant settings). This, of course, is not so, as they lead somewhere very specific, namely the books they decorate. Therefore, considering the practical purpose and context, this lack is not really a deficiency, as more full-fledged pieces might have overshadowed the narrative itself. This is a situation where taking away adds, to the benefit of the text, creating a relationship of supplementation rather than of emulation. Additionally, the general air of absence may tempt future readers to buy the book, to fill the vacuum created by the images.

book cover sleepy hollow pumpkin fire shoes

We witness a sensitivity on the artist’s part: she steps back to allow the written narrative to have its word. The paintings are a part of a bigger design; each is the first frame of a long series of frames — which, perhaps, should be more aptly called pages, or chapters. The painter participates in a teamwork with the writer (and the publisher), bearing responsibility for the first impression and visual imprint. This is a risky enterprise, because some people will decide whether to read the book or not on the basis of the cover, despite the common saying. Considering the classic texts, it is also an overwhelming one — but not enough to confuse the artist, who produced vivid and effective visual introductions that match up to the written content.

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