"Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”
~ Terry Tempest Williams, from "When Women Were Birds"
"The Procession of Hope and Feathers" is now hanging on the mezzanine of R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, MA - walk in the door and you can't miss it. It's eleven feet wide! .The title of this painting was inspired by a poem by Emily Dickinson, who spent her life in Amherst, Massachusetts - just a few miles from where I live.
The enormous stretcher - 132" x 68" - was built by Twin Brooks in Maine. It was stretched (with my nervous assistance) by R. Michelson Galleries' master framer, Don Robinson. It will be on display at the gallery until sometime in December, so please stop by and view The Procession of Hope and Feathers while you have the chance.
Why feathers? Each of the characters in this painting has at least one winged companion. From a pink flamingo, a feathered mask, a seagull ruffled by the breeze, a landing parrot and a racing raven to a majestic winged helmet and a beaked Venetian plague doctor's mask, these avian avatars are all part of the narrative.
And here is the Emily Dickinson poem:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.