I have a windy liver, Maria said. A what? A windy liver, she repeated. I practice yoga with Maria and a group of about a dozen yogi’s. Every Tuesday we meet for three re-energizing hours to hand-stand, back-bend and twist the afternoon away. Apparently Maria had things going on and decided to see an Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioner. The outcome was this diagnosis of a Windy Liver.
Ironically the day before I had painted livers ( not windy ones) as part of a new series titled Vital Commotion, concerning the body-mind connection. Her words resonated visually. Serendipity!
I had to take a pause, because although it got my imagination going, it was for Maria, a personal diagnosis. I prodded, curiously but respectfully. Maria didn’t seem to mind. She did not really know much about the condition. As usually happens in the Practice everyone chimed in with what one knew about the ailment, or what one thought it could mean. Meg, our instructor, is an Ayurvedic consultant. She explained some, but it was all still abstract to me.
I wondered if I would be annoyed to be diagnosed with a windy liver or would I be relieved. Maria told us about her treatment, it included sesame oil, I think. I came home and immediately began researching windy livers.
I had purchased some small copper sheets the week before, thinking I might work on a print soon. Little did I know an idea would present itself. Printmaking not only allows immediacy and spontaneity, it also allows wit and lightheartedness in some odd way. I think this is because initially the earliest forms of printmaking began with the press and from it sprang political satire, its history allows for an easy balance of intelligence and simplicity.
After a few days of research, I formulated a design and scratched it onto the plate. I worked in my studio, non-stop, and the image just rolled right out. One of the necessities for making a print is to be able to work in reverse. I realized only after I had done it, that the various organs, including a liver, a liver lobule, a gallbladder and spleen were not in reverse. I knew when I ran the print it would print backwards. But this worked, after all – imbalance of some sort – is what a windy liver is all about.
I recall I was listening to Mana, a Mexican musical group, for the first time. I was trying to understand the words as I worked on the plate, they were in Spanish. The music seemed fluid and ephemeral, the words poetic. I had my dictionary with me, and as I made sense of phrases, I put some of them into the border of the image. The words have to do with earth, rain, fire and air – tierra, agua, fuego, y aire – the elements. This too connected (according to my research). I drew the words in reverse so they would print readable. This has always been easy for me, to write backwards. It comes in handy in printmaking.
I pulled a dozen simple prints and brought them back into my studio. And I began hand- painting one and then two. The first one is titled, Her Diagnosis-A Windy Liver.
A figure stands as the focal point, on a world of hearts. Areas of the body are in flames. The body is disconnected and disjointed because it is being reset.
Symbols of mind, body and spirit take up space somewhere in the composition, as do literal cells, nerves, and organs. The figure holds up its hands, open and ready, no fight or flight present.
Not long after I completed these works my friend Andrea, from The Store over at the Mesa Art’s Center, called. MAC had purchased my lithograph for their permanent collection and she had just seen it. I didn’t know you made prints! Now and again I do, I said. Do you have any small prints I can carry for the upcoming opening? I delivered 7 prints to Andrea within a week, just in time for the opening Print exhibit, in the main gallery.
You can see and or purchase this print along with others in The Store, at MAC.
Maria is doing better, going towards balance. Namaste Maria.