Conference of the Birds
by LAURIE BLUM
16 Mar 2010 10:17
In my youth I envisioned beautiful magical birds and avidly frequented and lost myself in the woods and flower gardens of my childhood dwellings. I was entranced by fairy tales, which I feel also have a secret language of an inner world unique to each culture.
I was deeply affected as a child by my Russian heritage. On my seventh birthday, I was ushered into a new world of magnificent art and music: The Bolshoi Ballet's debut in America of The Nutcracker Suite at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City! Later I attended the High School of Art and Design in New York City, Philadelphia College of Art and the New York Studio School Of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture started by Hans Hoffman.
While painting in the Studio School one day in 1972, the black and white drab tapestry before me suddenly was transformed into massive color shapes like islands breaking apart in space. Perhaps my visit to Tangier, Morocco the previous summer had indelibly imprinted my consciousness with its intensely vibrant and colorful landscape.
A few months later I was given Nizami's "Leyli and Majnun" to read and instantly recognized my heart's calling. I began to paint from its Persian Miniatures. I realized that here was a symbolic language spoken through the paintings and the poetry and I was determined to grasp its meaning.
I had this understanding of flowers, animals and natural beauty ever since I was a child and I experienced a communion with them. I was able to communicate my feelings through my paintings and these feelings could be grasped in an instant without spoken words. The symbols expressed in a silent language, the beauty of the hidden world through the sense of Feeling.
In 2003-2004, I journeyed to Iran three times, spending three months painting in its glorious gardens on each trip. It was in Shiraz that I discovered my Inner Garden and I painted this Outer Garden: Bagh-e-Eram, which made me capable of painting the Inner Garden within me. In 2004, The Shiraz Cultural Institute compared my paintings to the ancient Shiraz School of Miniature Painting and said they would be proud to call me a Shirazi artist from now on. I remembered that the Shiraz School painted the Persian Miniature Paintings of "Leyli and Majnun" and I felt I had come full circle.
The Foreign Ministry granted me a show of my paintings at the Tomb Shrine of Hafez in Shiraz in December of 2004. Mr. Navid of The Shiraz Cultural Institute said, "Laurie is from the West and we are from the East but her paintings show the Real Dialogue Among Civilizations." I asked him what that meant and he said, "Our President Khatami gave a speech and said, 'What we need is not war between Civilizations but the Real Dialogue among Civilizations.'" Mr. Navid explained to the group, "Artists might say this line isn't right or that line isn't right, but Laurie paints with Feeling, and that's something new!"
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