Circus act


“Damn everything but the circus!” — e.e. cummings

March really did come in like a lion. For starters, daily doses of economic bad news are dumping more black paint on our national angst and depression. On a personal level, my widowed mother has been wrestling with worrisome health issues all week. So I’ve been spending a lot more time in medical waiting rooms than I’d like.

Following the advice I usually give my writing students, I try to relieve stress and worries by working on creative projects. I type, paint, scribble, collage, or print my way out of whatever’s gnawing at my peace of mind. To cheer myself this week, I completed a new altered art project.

Inspired by an e.e. cummings poem, my new altered board book (featured in the photo above) pays tribute to circus nostalgia. Just thinking about the circus makes me smile. To create the piece, I collaged an old children’s board book with circus ephemera, vintage photos, tissue paper, stamps, glitter, and metallic paints. Then I embellished it with cheerful, fun stuff — feathers, sequins, carnival tickets, broken costume jewelry, and shiny foil stars (like the ones our teachers used to stick on our spelling tests). Here’s the poem that inspired it:

Damn everything but the circus!
…damn everything that is grim, dull,
motionless, unrisking, inward turning,
damn everything that won’t get into the
circle, that won’t enjoy, that won’t throw
its heart into the tension, surprise, fear
and delight of the circus, the round
world, the full existence …
–e.e. cummings

To view an album of my altered art pieces on Facebook, click here.

12 thoughts on “Circus act

  1. Wow Cindy! I checked it out and that’s amazing art! I also love the poem and all that it means. What a fascinating idea – altered art. So sorry to hear about your mom.

  2. Oh,my. Cindy, your art is amazing. I have always enjoyed when you’ve shown a piece at a time, but what a collection you have. I caught my breath at “A Room of One’s Own,” and then again at “Becoming.” Thank you for the link to you online album.

  3. Thanks so much for the compliments, ladies! I’m happy I can share my “homemade fun” with you — and so glad you were able to open the public link to the Facebook album … some people tell me it won’t work for them. –CL

  4. Wonderful poem and outstanding work of art, Cindy. Your talents never cease to amaze.
    It takes work to stay positive — I recently heard the phrase “intelligent optimism.” I love the concept. It doesn’t imply being an ostrich. It is a statement of affirmation in the face of it all. It’s so easy to fall into a morass of fear and anxiety that takes us nowhere but down.

    So, in the spirit of ee cummings do not go there! Swing on a trapeze of hope! Ride a great big huge elephant of determination! Be a tiger in the face of negativity. We are all tight rope workers reaching for one another’s hands and being one another’s safety nets when we stumble. How can we know what tomorrow will bring? Better to keep today’s big tent aloft with intelligent optimism.

  5. Great artwork going on here, love the embellishments that give it such a circus feel! It’s nice to have a 2nd art, other than writing, for those days and moments like you mentioned. What a great release!

  6. Wow, Cindy. Love the circus piece, and was so happy to be able to link to your Facebook art space! I think Secrets is my favorite with the one inspired by Walden coming in a close second. All of them blew me away! I love the idea of shopping for bits and pieces and then having them appear one day in an artwork. Lovely!

  7. Such a fun post, Cindy. First, I am so glad that you take good care of you in a lighthearted way when the going gets tough. Second, I appreciate the poem and how it inspired you to play. Your book looks just fabulous! Hugs!

  8. Wow! Your pieces are so beautiful. I was fascinated with the altered book art I saw last year over at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center and really wanted to try it myself.
    I do like the idea of having a different creative outlet beyond writing. It was one of the reasons I took a batch of abstract painting classes over at the BBAC and, earlier, some beading classes through RO Community Ed. I keep meaning to drag my beads back out and/or replenish my paint box and drag my easel out into the back yard to paint en plein air this summer…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.