Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Do you know what you look like?



I did this painting last week. It was almost too sweet even for me, but I decided to leave it as is and many seem to like it. I do like it, it's just that I wanted the shepherdess to look older, like...me.

I tried to add jowls, sagging neck, some wrinkles, and it all looked bizarre. So I decided maybe this is what I feel like, this face on this woman, the face I had not too many years ago. I was looking at some photos of me from five years ago and had this calm epiphany

"Wow, I've aged."

I used to always look younger than my years, I thought. Now i think I just look my age. I'm okay with the aging part because I like who I am and who I've evolve into, and I plan to keep expanding each day, an ongoing metamorphosis since birth. I like women in their late forties and older-they've discarded some of the crap that bagged them down in their youth.

But there is this odd thing that happens when you do start to change physically, for me it was about 55 when things really started shifting. My skin has aged, although I'm blessed with Irish looking skin and have worn hats and sunscreen my entire life [thanks to good training by my redheaded mother], and I don't smoke. The odd thing is that I can't really tell what I look like right now. It's a stage, I know it. I suppose it is like what happens in your teens, and then your early twenties where you start coming into your own more. I remember in college tromping along, feeling unworthy in the looks department, and one day I just sort of realized,

Oh, that's what I look like! I'm okay.

In my forties I went through another slight shift, but it was not as drastic as what happens in the mid fifties.

I hope to maybe do some self portraits, for my own purposes in the next year, but maybe I'll drop that idea. I have so many other projects I want time for-like my puppets and dolls I want to spend more time on this summer, new books, clay, my photography-I might lose interest in what I 'feel' I look like and just grow into a comfort zone of it. My face does not represent what my soul is doing, but it is an expression of it in some ways. It's the skin, the covering that allows me to be a soul here on a planet walking in a body, a vessel. If nobody had ever seen me, they would react to my art and writing because of what my soul put into it-it would have nothing to do with my face. While beauty in the commercial world does sell, I do believe that a person's actions and heart are what shine through the skin, and that is what people respond too-even though they can also be attracted to physical beauty. it is the action of the soul extended out into the world, that can move people to do good deeds, inspire art and good will to earth, people and all creatures.

What do you all feel as you are adding years on and looking in mirror? Do you see the face you know is yours, or did you get a bit ungrounded by it? Did it seem like a phase for you, just like the awkwardness of being a teen?

4 comments:

Gus Pennepacker said...

This really resonates with me, as I have always been quite mirror-averse. A few years ago, when I was 55, I was startled by some photos that were taken of me--who is that? She has Aunt Janina's proud Polish nose, and other parts resemble various other family members, but the way she looks at the camera... And even more, the photos of me walking away. My gait, the bow to my legs and the way my feet hit the ground. In those I could see how I feel about myself. I look most like myself, to me, when I am in motion. But the joke I have with myself, never before revealed: I have my Grandma Kowalski's nostrils. How do I know this? When I was a child, I shared my bed with her whenever she visited. She always slept on her back and snored like a train, so I was awake a lot. I studied them. One day, while trying to look at my chin in the bathroom mirror, I recognized them. And laughed. It seems that as I grow older my body reminds me of all the bodies that came before me. I have a sense of where mine's going, but as I go I look just like me.

Katherine Dunn said...

Oh Gus this just made my day complete! I love what you say about'look most like yourself [to you] when you are in motion, and I can relate to that as I like blur in my images. A photographer friend once told me [when a bunch of uus then 35 year old photo stylists were lamenting how we looked back then in phontos [oh PAleeze!} he said, 'you know, it's all light, and reflection, and one second on film doesn't capture what we really see in front of us". Even though of course a talented photog. can capture the essence or story. ANd I snorted, hearing about your similar nostrils, so funny. I see my father, - when I was born I was bald, so was he pretty much and people laughed becasue we looked so alike. At times, it bugs me, but more often now, I just see him, like I'm not there and I am meant to see him.

Kerry O'Gorman said...

Well, this subject has been on my mind a lot since I turned 53 this year. I suppose these days I just feel like I look. Tired. Tired from feeling sad, crying, dreams and wondering if I'll ever get through this grief about Griffin. I know I will eventually. I, like you, always looked younger than my years until now. But I know after the sadness has diminished that my lightness will return and even now, does come through on good days. I like when I am in good spirits and creating. It's what drives me and makes me feel like my spirit. "I pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again" as the saying goes...I do believe I will inherit my granmas lovely wrinkles around her eyes and mouth from laughter and days in the garden.

Katherine Dunn said...

Kerry, I do feel, speaking for myself, that wen i feel good, I like what I see more and am more forgiving. To make me feel good i need-work, exercise and feeling of value to others. If it gets out of balance, well...I remember going to a party once and the photos all looked so great and the host said I was 'glowing that night' and I remember feeling that way. So I think when you mention 'lightness', that in mourning it can hide or take a break so we can mourn properly. I like that thought-those lines on the mouth are from all the laughter!

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~