“And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger.” – Audre Lorde

Excerpt from “Seventh Heaven” by Patti Smith

Oh Raphael. Guardian angel. In love and crime
all things move in sevens. seven compartments
in the heart. the seven elaborate temptations.
seven devils cast from Mary Magdalene whore
of Christ. the seven marvelous voyages of Sinbad.
sin/bad. And the number seven branded forever
on the forehead of Cain. The first inspired man.
The father of desire and murder. But his was not
the first ecstasy. Consider his mother.

The recurring appearances of the number seven in the natural and the spiritual world are intriguing.  There are seven notes on the musical scale, seven days of the week, seven colors in a rainbow.  In many holy writings and frequently in the faith I was raised in, the number seven is used to signify divine completion and perfection.  It’s been said that in seven years time, every cell in our body has been replaced at least once and we are physically transformed into a new person.

Media and symbols have been heavily layered in the work.  The images were made with a 4×5 large format film camera and developed at my kitchen sink.  The origami incorporated in each contains hand-written versions of writing excerpts and poetry. Book pages and other items such as feathers or string have been painted over to compose the base canvases.

The intention for the work, in the narrowest sense, is to raise questions about the methods used by high control groups and the validity of predetermining children’s beliefs, making their acceptance and approval as a person conditional on their adherence to a belief system.  In the broadest sense, it offers questions about self-compassion and community.  Can we recover after total loss of identity, world view, and community?  Is there a way to transform a deeply embedded identity without losing the substance of who we are?