introducing THE GRACES : new works on paper

Inslee Fariss

Charting My Way Forward

I've been thinking a lot lately about the Myth. In the context of ancient absurdity but also in the context of the modern storyteller. I am trying to understand my own mythology. My own story.

I have spent late winter and early spring painting fragmented statuary. I enjoyed the physical process of sculpting paint into paper as much as I enjoyed the research aspect - the rediscovery of the playful, fantastical and bizarre stories of the Olympians.

A natural progression of this dive into mythology has led me skyward. I've long been inspired by an ancient engraving of the celestial heavens. A few weeks back I decided to do some research on its creator and I have become bewitched by what I found. The articles I've read about Johannes Hevelius read pretty unemotionally and straight forwardly, but as I absorbed details about this man's life and times, my creative wheels started turning. Before you know it, this astronomer's story felt like an important love story set into motion four hundred years ago to ultimately lead to this moment in my life.

Yes. Very vivid imagination over here. 

So, basically, Johannes Hevelius was the most interesting man in Poland in the mid 1600s. Various articles cite him as having been a city councilor, beer brewer, a member of the nobility and a significant astronomer, inventor, writer, artist. His partnership with his wife sounded harmonious, both in a loving union and in a shared intellectual bond as they worked together in their rooftop laboratory above their home, charting the stars and the surface of the moon with instruments of their own design. A fire destroyed a great deal of their work but they persevered. And after Hevelius' death, his young wife went on to complete and publish his unfinished manuscripts, becoming one of the earliest female astronomers, all while raising four children. The articles just presented this as fact, without embellishment or exclamation. But my imagination turns this into an epic film staring Colin Firth and Emila Clarke.

Oscars all around for them both. And for myself as the director. 

I guess what I'm getting at here is that I admire the artistic power of Hevelius' exquisite heavenly engravings, especially when combined with this mythology of his life. It is the whole package.

I was so moved by this that I just went ahead and painted my own version of a celestial map. I had to explore these themes with my own brush and paints. 

The Plainsphere Celeste (defined as an analog computing instrument, but so much more!) is full of the idiosyncrasies that make it distinctly my work: misspellings and slightly recalibrated details and mixed-up references and a few hidden jokes between me and myself.

I made a point to not be overly fussy about all this. It was slow going enough just birthing the idea - all of the layered ideas - so I didn't want to murder the beauty of it with obsessive accuracy. It was probably the longest running and most tedious single thing I've ever worked on, none the less. 

It was my birthday when I finished it. And I loved it. That rarely happens. Right as I stood up to examine my work my husband opened the door of the studio to tell me he'd just finished roasting the ceremonial birthday chicken for dinner. I could tell he kind of loved it too. Or maybe he just loved me, despite all the misspelling. 

As we turned off the studio light and went to have dinner I realized aloud,

"This is the last thing I'll paint here, just for me"

Of course I'm still painting away on various projects for clients. But the reality is, I've run down the clock. There's no time left. The next time I paint just for me, I'll be in a new studio. 

"What's that?" you ask. 

Oh, didn't you know? Of course you didn't! How silly of me. I forgot to mention, or maybe I was too afraid to mention, to announce this big change out loud. 

I'm moving away. We are moving away.

It's time to go find a place where we can grow into a new chapter. I've wanted a home to stretch my creativity into for a long time. I need a bigger space to fill up with art and light and energy and people and ideas. This home is going to be in Raleigh, North Carolina. A place I know just a little bit about. What I've learned so far has been warm and inviting. I'm full of wondering about it. 

So here we go. In a handful of weeks we'll pack up and go looking for what is next. 

e.e. cummings said it best, something about Carrying your heart, right? Carrying it in my heart? 

So, I'll do that. I'll carry it all. I'll carry New York City, I'll carry all these memories - all of it in my heart. I like that idea. That our hearts are so big, always growing bigger to contain our journey. You never have to take one thing out to fit another in, the capacity to love only grows with the gift of time and experience. 

So, consider yourselves officially in the loop. I'm sure it will be an exciting spring for us all. 

Onward! 

The Planisphere Celeste

Croissantus Flakus

A Good Boy

This is my sign

This is my world

oh hey

@inslee