Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yellow Cross, Black Cross

Pilgrim in the New World, Oil on Board, Peggy Sue McRae 2010

I have been painting mandalas, circles and squares, but I painted this yellow cross with the American pilgrims in the new world lurking in the story-telling part of my mind. That is why I call it Pilgrim in the New World. Combining the potent strength of the cross as a visual image with the idea of land and landscape reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe's Black Cross, New Mexico

 Black Cross, New Mexico,  Oil on Canvas, Georgia O'Keeffe 1929

I saw the crosses so often - and often in unexpected places - like a dark thin veil of the Catholic Church spread over the New Mexico landscape. evening when I was living in Taos we walked back of the morada toward a cross in the hills. I was told that it was a Penitente cross but that meant little to me at the time. The cross was large enough to crucify a man, with two small crosses-one on either side. It was in the late light and the cross stood out-dark against the evening sky. If I turned a little to the left, away from the cross, I saw Taos mountain - a beautiful shape. I painted the cross against the mountain although I never saw it that way. I painted it with a red sky and I painted it with a blue sky and stars.

That cross was big and strong, put together with wooden pegs. For me, painting the crosses was a way of painting the country.

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