Language of the heart
Layering of different forms, language, texture, colors, and impressions is a primary theme in these collages. I began to focus on the Language of the Heart and became intrigued by what this language might look like. Of course, the most readily available and medically-based interpretation of the heartbeat is an ECG or Electrocardiogram. But this was a language I found I did not understand very well. I had a difficult time connecting experience and meaning to the different types of ECG rhythms. So, I decided to translate the ECG over to a language of which I have better understanding: color, words, music, and more.
The translation was completed in a methodical fashion. In each piece there are small squares of chalk color progressing in shades of black to white. This is the color "alphabet" I designed. I chose shades of whites, grays, and blacks as they provided an orderly continuum and neutral gradation.
For the translation I set up the "color alphabet" to coincide with progressive points on the ECG line. White is at the bottom of the scale and indicates valleys or dips in the ECG line. Black is at the top of the scale and indicates peaks in the ECG line. Then I intersected each point on the ECG with the continuum of color on the chalk alphabet. Each color point was then placed on the rectangular form to create a patterned picture or mosaic of the heartbeat. This gave a translation or another language for what the heart is expressing.
Other parts of the collage have to do with expressions of the heart. What are the impressions of a specific happenings, traumas, or emotions on the heart beat? We speak of our "broken hearts" when relationships fail. When our eyes fall on something of beauty our heartbeat may speed up. Sudden shock and trauma can bring a heart attack and literally stop the language of our heat. And, we are only beginning to understand the effects of long term stress, rumination, and grief on our bodies and mind.
Music, prose, myth, and art are poetry of the heart. How many turn to humming a tune when we are joyful or scribbling out poetic notes when over taken by melancholy? Music has a language similar to our descriptions of heart functions: Beats, rhythm, instrument valves, syncope/syncopation, and more. Spoken languages offer us different sounds and rhythms for what we with to express from our heart. "I love you"" in English as a very different beat than "Ich leibe dich" in German.
Every experience or interaction is an imprint upon our bodies, our emotion, and our spirit. What impression does our experience leave on other persons, on ourselves, on the context of our lives?
Patricia Maarhuis, 2001
Maarhuis, P. (2001, May) Bodies from Clay [Series, mixed media sculptures and collage prints]. In den Alpine: Opening exhibition for the Ansitz Tammerburg galleries. Bergraum Gallery, Ansitz Tammerburg. Lienz, Austria.