Working with portraiture through the lens of Greek pottery, I am noticing a trend in the people whose portraits I am choosing to use and the portions of their stories (as I know them) I am choosing to accompany the portraits as text on the pieces; they (people and text) all have a sense of tragedy. All the figures are,in one way or another, tragic figures.
This gave way to a stream of thought: is life at its most interesting when tragedy is involved? Are figures the most interesting when they are tragic figures?
I think the easy answer is yes—just look at the movies we flock to see and the books on the bestsellers lists. Listen to the lyrics of the music we buy.
Then is sadness and bitterness our most defining trait? As I am writing this, I’m recalling that in body-snatcher-type movies, the zombie-people are either exaggeratedly stoic or eerily happy. The real humans are full of intense emotions: worry, fatigue, anger, melancholy, anxiety. In any horror and a sci-fi film, we know that something is about to go terribly wrong if the main characters land in a community full of happy people. So, it appears that it is the more extreme, and negative emotions that not only make us interesting but make us human.
In 2006, I began to keep a journal. I wrote about my anxieties about my future in terms of employment, my lack of a love life (intermittently with any given, torrid affair I may have been having), and disagreements with friends. And I remember in the summer of 2010, things were very calm: I was teaching, my heart was neither broken or pining, my friends and I were somewhat removed from each other because of the demands of my new career. I remember recording in my journal: “nothing really to say again today: so is life only worth reflecting upon when there is no looming tragedy?”
Serendipitously, as I was looking online for images on Greek pottery for my current project, I came across Greek tragedy masks. I had never known there was such a variety of designs: this may be something I may be interested in pursuing (in relation to portraiture) after this current project is finished.