visual metaphor

March 28, 2020

When I look through past work for one which visually sums up how things feel internally during these protectively distant and very strange strange days, this is the one….

‘Distant Light’
watercolour, arches #140 cold press paper, 14″ x 11″
by Lance Weisser

Here in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Canada, our Interior Health Authority’s policy is to refrain from revealing the precise location of any pandemic cases. This causes a certain incongruity in our city of 97,000, where there remain no official instances of anyone at all having contracted the virus.

Interior Health will only generalize by revealing ‘x’ number of cases in the whole of the Interior as new ones come to light. So citizens speculate as to which of our cities, towns, and rural situations are being most affected, or, possibly being affected at all. No one really knows.

This has created a two-meter-apart sharing of rumoured cases: ‘did you know ________ isn’t well?’; ‘they say __________ senior’s residence is under lockdown’. Yet when I stand looking out our front window, all I see are neighbours doing uncharacteristic, and very fastidious yard cleanup–and couples and dogs I never knew existed strolling in isolated threesomes, as though on holiday.

For all our apparent imperturbation, there’s a newly-felt internal jolt when hearing an ambulance making its way towards our nearby nursing home–something not unusual, something not out of the ordinary–but now, in these times, a jolt nonetheless; an unexpected, yet telling one.

Our dog groomer phoned to say she’ll still do our bichon, but to call first and then put him outside the door. I put $50 in a note of thanks, inside an envelope. Punching two holes and stringing yarn through and then around Elmo’s neck, I pushed him at her. She waved to me with surgical gloves through the screen–and it came to me how even if I put $50 in an envelope and tie it around my own neck, no one in our city is allowed to groom me.

I learned the art of denial in early childhood. While I labour away at mastering watercolour, when it comes to denial, I soar: that was mastered long ago. Slowly, the onion-skinned layers of pretending and pretension are exposing important vulnerabilities within: that social distancing demands creating innovative intimacies–reaching towards those who have no picture windows, impassionately observing couples walking dogs and neighbours trimming hedges–searching for ways to help others mitigate what is becoming a knot of fear over detecting a problem breathing; wondering if their lost job will be forever lost; literally unable to remain at all calm.

In other words, I either rise to the occasion or I don’t. And I don’t think I am. It’s made a little more difficult when, as citizens, we don’t even know what the occasion actually is. But at least I can donate online to the Food Bank. At least I can consciously stop myself from denying that this is a time to mobilize and discover where help is required and try to fill it.

The above painting is entitled ‘Distant Light’. It could just as easily be named ‘Present Darkness’.

The challenge is for me to help stop the one from becoming the other.

11 Responses to “visual metaphor”

  1. Oh, that means the world to me, Francina. Bless you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Francina said

    Well captured the surreal feeling of reality around us, Lance. Interesting article and a gorgeous well fitting painting. I love the way how the Light rips the darkness. Thank you for sharing. Keep healthy, you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ….thank you very much, Steve. I always appreciate your site–so calming during these uncertain days


  4. You’ve got a well-thought-out essay here.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. …and watercolorists! Now more than ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. … is all quite displacing. Thank you Kerfe and Nina for your own encouraging artwork. We are all pulling for NYC. Such a grand grand place that has weathered so much, and continues to do it with grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. … photographers! thank you Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  8. … appreciated, Ted

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Eloquent, and should touch everyone. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My eyes are drawn to the lighter distance. Keep painting. Artists create realties.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. memadtwo said

    A challenge for us all. My building management in NYC still claims no Coronavirus cases here. There are 1100 apartments in the complex, how can that possibly be?…
    Lovely painting.

    Liked by 1 person

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