Almost Boxed In

Kathy Grieb Kennedy

Kathy Grieb Kennedy

Kathy Grieb Kennedy is one of my favourite artists; I mean she’s in my top twenty currently alive on the planet favourites. After spending a good half hour scouting around for images, I remembered I hadn’t paid her portfolio a visit in a month or so and tapped my way over there pronto. Kathy’s prolific in her creative output, but there were two in particular that stood out for me and the image above was one of them. I found it to be funny, not just the concept but the title ~ it was appropriate for my mood; which was pissed off, dark, brooding, and ever-so-slightly-dejected. So I’m in the throes of whatever I’m in the throes of and I spy a pirate pic with the caption of…

Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all                  - Johnny Depp

And I say it was appropriate not because it resonated but because it caught me off-guard and swept me to a place which was far more comfortable than the one I was in. So a random picture managed to shift my mood within a matter of seconds, and without it, I reckon I’d have struggled to pull myself right to write in anything less than a few hours. That alone made it worthy of a closer look, hence this post. So the headphones go in, and I start by thinking about the most obvious personal symbol ~ The pirate. Traditionally speaking, they’re opportunistic in nature and known to be lawless yet they have their own codes of honour which you have to obey, or you’ll face death or abandonment. They represent that part of a character which steals treasure belonging to others but were known to be respectful of common decency. Keeping within the context of the picture there’s a sense of playing at it; we’re looking at a kid in a costume, not a grown man with a menacing posture. So is there a sense of maybe someone who still has some growing to do?

Role playing?

Game playing?

The confines of the room are descriptive. The open water is behind the boat, walls to either side, but if you look in front there’s a black and white chequered floor…that boat has found land. There’s a message here saying that one would have to go backward to be on the open sea and from a symbolic perspective; the positioning of the boat, the walls, there’s not much in the way of choice when it comes to direction ~ it’s a case of forward or backward. As for the parrot companion, does this imply the repetition of words? Parrots will only communicate what has been taught by rote, so perhaps here we have an indication of poor communication because of a limited vocabulary? I read plenty whilst researching the behaviour of parrots but became distracted at the mention of a parrot sometimes being displayed above the right-hand side of Guan Yin with either a pearl or prayer bead in its beak. When associated with Guan Yin, the parrot becomes a symbol of filial piety (the duty of respect and obedience to one's parents and ancestors) which links with the association to what we learn as children by rote in regards to communication. I remember Guan Yin well from the days of woo as the Goddess of Mercy, and I wonder if the hidden message, for me at least, is one of a reminder to the self to show compassion to the ordinary mortal failings of humankind; especially those which have been handed down through the family. There’s an overall sense here that growth needs to occur, but for now, the only practical option is to step off the boat, choose a move, and walk forward.

You can see all of Kathy Grieb Kennedy’s work here @ room 17