Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Extravagance – Art, Clothing, Music?

I wasn’t expecting to be moved by a hat made in Africa topped with a 4-ft long crocodile carved entirely out of wood, I was just trying to extend our stay at the IMA since it was frigidly cold and Delaney needed more exercise…

At first, I was thinking, how could anyone wear something so cumbersome? Why would they spend so much time shaping and carving, making the crocodile look so true to life? I moved on to the ornate bowls made of brass and wood, and rings with 2-inch-long pointy stones that you wouldn’t want to see on the finger of someone’s hand you were about to shake. And then I came upon the pièce de résistance – a mask/headpiece/hat with probably a dozen hand-carved figures atop, each being around 8 inches long and highly detailed. I was astounded and confused…why would anyone make this or wear it?

Our next stop was Contemporary Design, featuring sleek chairs and couches, sleeker bowls and vases. After a few steps in this space, I had a greater appreciation for the exhibit we had just left. The glare from the shiny, sparse objects was hurting my eyes and even making me angry. We got outta there quickly, found a bench in the sun and sat for a while to process what had just happened. There was something about the extravagance of the African art that affected me in a surprising way. A bowl, a ring, a spoon, a comb – not just functional but things someone spent time with, worked over, infused with spirit and life.

When I was in my 40’s, my go to outfit was a simple black t-shirt and khakis, and if I needed to dress up, I wore a black dress. But my friends in their 50’s were wearing colorful, flowery clothes and carrying ornate purses. They made me smile, I thought it worked for them, it just wasn’t for me. I do see a transition, though, now that I’m…catching up a little...

On Facebook, the thing to do lately is to post an old photo on Thursdays. As I was rummaging through pictures, I noticed a pattern in my CD covers over the years. They have gone from black to color, from shy to bolder. My 1st cover was in b & w, wearing a black dress, my arm artfully covering my body, with one bare foot exposed. The next was a step up, sepia-toned (but wearing black and covering myself, my hands clasped together.) The 3rd shows half of my face, the rest of me hiding in a closet, and in the 4th I’m halfway hidden in a fireplace. CD #5 you can see all of me, but it’s a caricature. My newest one, released last year, is the boldest ever – my arms are free, I’m fully extended like a dancer, I’m jumping in the air, I’m smiling, there are flowers and color everywhere (and I’m in France!) (Interesting, I had just turned 50 when we did the shoot.)

I’m wondering how these realizations about extravagance can play into my music. How can I enhance this? What bold steps do I need to take? What are some ridiculously extravagant musical projects I could undertake?


  1. This reminds me in a wonderful way of Neil Gaiman's Commencement address to the University of Arts:

  2. This reminds me in a wonderful way of Neil Gaiman's Commencement address to the University of Arts:

  3. Thanks, and thank you for the link, very inspiring!