“Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

 

My biological father, a religious fanatic, claimed to know the truth. A woman’s value could be precisely calculated according to metrics of surface: dress, speech, piety, observance. My mother, a free spirited German, claimed her own truth. Beyond surface, there were things that dictated an individual’s fate: signs, symbols, curses, miracles. Being raised in a bookstore, I was imbued with many truths from the local UFO hunters, the psychics, the paranoid philosophers, the zealots, the hippies, all fervently declaring the objective truth to be found in their recommended codexes. These books were the saving graces of my childhood. With no other children around, I befriended the books and they became a catalyst to how I related to everything and everyone. They became my myriad of axioms.

 

Folklore is the human attempt to pass on these truths. Henry Glassie said it best, “it stresses the interdependence of the personal, the social; the aesthetic, the ethical, the cosmological; the beautiful, the good, the true. Practically, folklore is the study of human creativity in its own context”

 

My art can be summed up as confessions of paper, a way to visually communicate truths, accessing the space occupied by folklore. Paper conceals and communicates meaning, and can be destroyed and overlaid in various modes. I begin a piece by abstractly representing an image in paint, which I then cover with paper: scraps found, created from pulp, or hand illustrated. I then peel away the paper, leaving a construction bearing a nonlinear but viscerally personal connection to its origin. The accumulated papers mimic the debris that sticks to memories; it mirrors waking life’s uncanny transfiguration in our dreams. Where realism trusts only what can be tested and seen, folklore presents a world vibrating with meaning, a morally charged and heavily fated universe that rejects logic in favor of the non-linear.

© 2014 by Essi Zimm

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