Last spring I attended the 50th anniversary reunion of my husband’s graduation from Georgetown University dental school. One of the events was a lovely banquet preceded by a cocktail reception. I don’t know many of the people from that part of my husband’s life so I found a comfortable chair on the periphery and enjoyed a time of people watching.
We were on the mezzanine of the hotel. The lights were dimmed and classical music was playing in the background. Before long the allotted space became quite crowded with people reminiscing, catching up on lives and careers, and enjoying the libations being generously offered.
I began to notice how, in the shadowy light with people as close as they were, their bodies seemed to meld into a single irregular shape, but the heads and feet retained much of their unique identities. It seemed to me that there was a certain symbolic meaning to what I was observing: Their shared history created a cohesion in this group, and yet they were still gloriously unique individuals. While there is nothing profoundly earth-shaking about that, it was fascinating to see the truth of it so visually presented.
After getting back from Washington, DC, that image kept playing on the fringes of my mind until I finally set down with charcoals to see what would happen if I just let it out. The above piece is the result. I had assumed that the charcoal, if it turned out at all, would just be a first study before going to oils, but I’m frankly so satisfied with it that I’m not sure I’ll take it further. There is a certain light-hearted sultriness to it that I find satisfying.