Essays by the Co-Authors
©photo Daria Dorosh, 2016
John Tomlinson, artist and collaborator with poet Karen Morris on "Rage: the Misery of Men :: Hope: The Dawning of Men"
My history as a male in the 20th and 21st centuries is filled with vivid memories of all the men in my life: father, brother, uncle, grandfather, teachers and mentors, male friends, drill sergeants, fellow workers and bosses. They are the male protagonists and antagonists I have encountered in a variety of private and public situations.
I have an ear for what men say to men. I have an eye for their facial expressions when saying what they do and how they say it. Their voices, their expressions provide the rhythm to the music of my drawing. I believe that I am orchestrating an experience for myself, mapping my inner journey, leaving traces. Those traces have an element of darkness in them, with titles such as Modes of Escape, Dark Storms, and The Misery of Men, in which graphite and brush record my inner conversation about the misery of men, their rage, their expectations and their vulnerabilities, and unravel my own deep experience as a man in the world.
I haven't yet found the proper words to describe my encounter with poet Karen Morris. How many artists have the extraordinary experience of having a poet write and present a poem for each of the drawings in this book, written without his or her bidding or knowledge? How many poets are so deeply grounded in psychoanalytic perception that they see in my drawings, as she writes in her essay, "the artist's need to claim the page for the rites of self disclosure" and see "the opportunity to wrangle with my own stifled rage, to help myself with the suffering it can cause me; but before any of that could happen, I first saw the opportunity for revenge in the crafting of a poem for each character"? I don't know how many but I do know that it was a life-changing encounter for me.
For one thing, this woman who shares a good deal of Celtic rage, daring and word-smithing as an Irish-American closely matched this man who shares many of the same characteristics as a Scottish-Welsh-American. There may be no scientific proof of such ethnic traits, but I feel them in her words and in my drawings and that's good enough for me.
For another thing, I have never been satisfied with and am often angered by the idea of a work of art as a commodity to be sold to a collector for investment or social prestige in a gallery and then disappear from life in a cultural death.
To have my art presented in a dynamic, life-expressing collaboration with such a creative counterpart ensures its everlasting power to enlist men and women as emotional counterparts into infinity.