Though created by Priscilla May Alden (Cilla) more than two years ago, Journey II is joltingly relevant today.
“It is about one’s life journey—the twists and turns along the way. COVID-19 has been one big twist.”
(As have the protests over the killing of George Floyd roiling the country.)
Cilla’a tapestry designs are mostly abstract, however, her work includes representational references. “The power, rhythm, and beauty of the rugged coast of Maine as well as the colors and weaving traditions of the American Southwest have a strong influence on my artwork,” she says. “My images speak to landscape, and my spiritual connection to ancient cultures.”
In Journey II, the blue form down the middle may be understood as a river—two branches come together in jagged, winding flow (Cilla identifies the red diamond shape caught in its eddies as “probably me”).
As with many abstract artists, Cilla cedes license in how her work may be understood by others: there is not necessarily one right answer to what something is or symbolizes. Journey II may not have been created with pandemic or protest in mind, but it is especially apt for these unsettled, winding times.
The artist herself is unsettled: Cilla admits she has experienced a creative dry spell of late.
“I have a studio that I haven’t been to as much as I wish,” she says, reflecting on the impact of the pandemic over the last few months. “I find it just drained me of energy and inspiration.”
But as Maine begins loosening lockdown requirements, Cilla too is beginning to re-open creatively: she recently made designs for tapestries based on several small paintings she had created prior to COVID-19; her loom is now warped for four new tapestries.
Her energy is returning—another twist in her river.
As Cilla goes back to the inward work of her studio, one wonders: what emblem befitting our tomorrow might arise? Without knowing the answer to that question, we may trust that art—in all its unexpected surprise— carries the promise of affirming who we are and what we experience.
Lest you have any doubt, just look at Journey II.
See more work by Priscilla May Alden by visiting her website.