lynn sisler


Ocean Life-Force: An Artist's Exploration of Halcyon Days. 

Elusie Gallery

43 Main St. Easthampton, MA.

Opening Reception during Artwalk, October 14, 5-8pm

When Alcyone’s true love died at sea, in her agony she threw herself into the ocean as well.  The gods took pity on the couple and transformed them both into halcyon birds (kingfishers). When Alcyone made her nest on the beach, the harsh waves threatened her eggs. The gods held back the wind so that the sea remained calm for 7 days, now know as ‘Halcyon Days’, when storms do not occur. Today, Halcyon Days are a term for a happy, nostalgic time remembered from the past.

In ancient times, people and animals had a much different relationship than they do today. They shared a bond of mutual respect. Man and animal were much the same; they were trying to survive. They understood each other; some say they even spoke to one another. People told tales involving animals which explained how the world worked. In time, humans moved farther and farther away from their roots and began the separation between themselves and nature.

Three religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, recognize a ‘Garden of Eden’. The term eden, which means ‘delight’, is described as a “paradise where the first man and woman lived naked and not ashamed among animals and a great variety of fruit-bearing trees.” This description for me sums up what it was like to live as a person among other tribes of creatures as equals.

As an artist, I am interested in exploring the history of the relationship between humans and animals. I have found that, if I pay close attention, I find clues to this history everywhere. I find them in science and the work that both ancient and modern scientists have done. I find clues in folk tales and legends from all over the world. And I find clues around us today in the environment and how people interact with the world around them. The German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, theorized that when we experience an object, it becomes a ‘thing as it appears to us’ because we “see” it through our own tinted perceptions, including that of reason. We can never fully know “the thing in itself” because the world is always subjective. Ultimately, we are limited by our senses. This distinctly human interpretation of the world is where my art comes from, as it must, but it is also searching for other possibilities. I am driven to ask questions such as, “What about the something which cannot be observed, but is felt more as intuition? What will I find if I look closer, longer?  I encourage the viewer to stop, look carefully, closely examine the details. You will be treated with something wonderfully new, beautiful, and surprising each time.

Just as those original Halcyon Days began in the ocean, my recent work seeks to depict these joyous days of the past there as well. The sea is where all life began, where we all have our ancient beginnings. We are all inexplicably bound to the energy of water—it is the spiritual energy that runs through every living thing. The willingness to try to understand, to support, and to care about the Earth and all of her creatures is an important and necessary mission for human beings in our modern world. Conservation must have its foundation rooted in strong science. But equally important is the “heart” side of conservation. In order to inspire, raise awareness, and promote action-based thinking, other points of view are presented and considered through art. I create because I feel that the best way for me to respond to these issues that I feel passionate about is best expressed visually. These stories explore human, animal, botanical and environmental vulnerability, life and death forces, the historical and ancient relationships between animals and humans, both then and now, and the lure of beauty. Each painting is a narrative of love and hope. The magic of Halcyon Days still exists all around us. 

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