‘Torn’ makes a statement about personal responsibility, life choices, and changing situations. The first layer of this image depicted a piece of dingy-white fabric with a circle torn out of the center. The removed piece lies inside the hole created in the fabric when it tore from the body, but the process of tearing away and fraying of the edges prevents the piece from ever filling the void as completely as it once had. No matter how much the circular piece stretches, it cannot be manipulated enough to close the cavity it once filled.
The fabric represents connections to other people, family, friends, any human relationship. The circular piece represents an individual person. As we travel this journey called life, situations change, experiences modify our perspectives, moves change our environment and refresh our circle of influence, new people enter our lives and old people move on. How we handle life’s changes is our responsibility.
I have experienced this most directly since graduating college. Separated from my former relationships, I work to stay connected with those old friends, but also develop new friendships. Getting married and having children amplify the effort one must put forth to maintain friendships, particularly with friends who cannot relate to married or parental life! The splashes of color covering this canvas represent the busyness of life, a sort of voluntary controlled chaos that hinders creating and maintaining solid, quality relationships.
The frayed edges left by breaking the fabric connection leave strands that reach toward the place they used to know, longing to return to the familiar. Even if the original fabric can patch the void, the connection will never be the same. The removed fabric is obviously too small for it to return to its original position, situations and experiences have made too many modifications to its shape. However, it is still possible for the piece to touch every connection it used to have, but it must move around in order to do so.
It is the same way with us. Life changes our situations, pulling and tearing at us to the point we are unable to maintain friendships as closely as we once had. Those changes require added effort from us to maintain those connections, making it our responsibility to get past the chaos of life and nurture friendships we value. We should not stay connected or reconnect with people out of a narcissistic desire to be needed; rather a genuine compassion for people, the amount of effort you put forth will expose which motivates you.
As an added twist of irony in this piece, I reused an old canvas for this project. The original painting was part of a triptych I did several years ago. The triptych is now missing its third panel, making the image incomplete, another relationship torn by life’s situations.
The last aspect of ‘Torn’ is the blue ring, filling the void between the fabric body and removed section. As you look at this piece, your perspective of the subject matter begins to change. Instead of focusing on the splashes of color and explosions of white, the blue ring takes shape and fits into place. The central white circle interprets as a pupil, the blue ring an iris, as the painting is now looking back at you! Its convicting stare implicates you as being the one represented by the piece torn away, then begs the question, what are you going to do about it? Will you dwell on parts of your history you wish you could experience again, cultivate the relationships you have and keep them alive, or grow where you’re planted by developing new connections? I choose the latter two.