Solstice – 2017

Irene F Sullivan

A Question of Attention oil on canvas 72″ x 60″ 2011


Blessed rain.

Philosopher’s Stone.

Woman births herself.

Artist-woman re-conceives

in the Solstice arc.

Irene F. Sullivan    23 June 2017


“Being what I am becoming . . .”

“The Dancing Muse” 16″ x 12″ oil/canvas

We must kill the false woman who is preventing the live one from breathing.  –  Helene Cixous

I am working on new groups of paintings.  The first group of paintings is entitled  “Leaving Plato’s Cave”.  They are inspired by early Greek statues of women held in the antiquities section of the Louvre.  I am mesmerized by these statues of early goddesses and muses.  Since my last post I have been re-discovering, claiming and appropriating the language, thought and experience of French philosopher and humanist, Luce Irigaray.  Reading her latest book;  Through Vegetal Being (2016 Columbia University Press) led me to re-enter the world of this incredible woman philosopher, psychoanalyst and director of research in philosophy at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris.   What I am discovering and re-constituting for myself as an artist is a distinct poetics of  thinking, speaking and writing about my work that honors the distinct differance of a feminine artist.    Joining Irigaray in my explorations are two other great philosophers of the times; Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva.  These three women, often credited with the jouissance of French Feminism/Humanism are provoking oceanic shifts in my thinking about my work as an artist.

I continue with my French studies at that Denver Alliance Francaise.  In preparation for my artist residency in France this fall and upcoming exhibit “Alchemy on the Seine – River, Woods, & Word” I will be working with French Scholar, Emmanuelle Pourray on the translation of Jane Hirshfield’s poem; On The Fifth Day, works by Wendell Berry, and selections from The Ecopoetry Anthology.


Spring 2017

Trees have long been an important part of my life.  I talk to them, sit with them, watch them, care for them.  I grieve for them as I witness the disregard for all of the enviornmental protections that I and others have worked to put in place and keep in place over the past decade.  This disregard is on a continuum of rampant greed, corruption, narcissism and vulgarization of the feminine soul.  Disrespect for the  “the other”, no matter who, that “other” is, is a choice.  Dismissal is so easy these days, language so trite.  Choosing to remain unconscious, is just that, a choice.

Since November 9th of last year I have been in a constant search for a way to navigate the very dark and threatening waters I find myself in.  I have learned that I am not alone, that rage is real and not to be compromised away or softened to make someone else comfortable.  I have reached back through time reading the thoughts of artists, poets, ecologists, and philosophers who lived and worked through barbaric times.  Reaching back has guided me forward to the present.

Today, it became clear to me that my priority must be protecting my soul.  If I surrender my reflective practice, my voice, my studio work or my personal power and put my soul in harm’s way, I am lost.  The practice of soul protection is different for everyone.  For me it is a balance of speaking out, holding compassion with clear vision, honoring the work in my studio, honoring my rage and folding myself into silence.

Back to the trees.  THROUGH VEGETAL BEING – Two Philosophical Perspectives by Luce Irigary and Michael Marder recently published by Columbia University Press (2016) is my companion for these times.  I relish this book.  It guides, provokes, and opens my mind as it holds and affirms the weariness of body, soul, spirit that I experience in these dark times.  Some excerpts from last night’s reading.

Our culture taught us meeting a tree only through a denomination, an idea, a use, or a “face” of the tree that does not move, so renouncing both a great part of our present sight and the energy that an encounter between living beings can procure.

A tree gives us back our potential of vision, brings us back to ourselves with a capacity of seeing and living, of which we are deprived by most of the familiar objects that surround us.

Sensory perceptions then become dependent on human ideas or plans that cut them off from their living roots and qualities and remove them from their capacity to build bridges between our bodily and cultural belonging.  It is through paying attention, in the present, to its concrete singularity and its sensible qualities, without substituting a name for them, that the perception of a thing, above all of a living being, can lead us from a merely physical stage to a spiritual stage of our concern.