When I painted this Mud Painting from the Missouri River mud of my childhood I thought of the myriad ways a support is given. There are the obvious ones; a hand held out, education given, perhaps nurturance and clothing. In this painting lies my understanding of the lightness, grace and binding quality of mud.
I take mud seriously. In my adopted silicate world of the northeast it starts with feldspar, part of the granite that comes to us from the hot underbelly of the earth. Where I grew up in Missouri, mud comes from layers and years spent under a great inland ocean. Waterborne deposited in the heat of the day, let go the way in the allegorical story of my youth the sun removed the man’s coat where the wind could not.
Both take time. Both are essentially the same stuff. For me mud is part of the divine. Reflective of my mind, I think of the Harry Belafonte song whose lyrics went, “It was clear as mud, but it covered the ground and the confusion made the brain go ’round…” There is so much that isn’t clear, so much of our lives are lived not “knowing” anything much, and yet we make plans as if we know what’s what.
I think I know too, but as I get older I love the not knowing as much or more as the knowing which I now know as false but still think I know something. I love the mud. I love the way it works, the way it seeps and falls and pulls. I love that I have to be really quiet and thoughtful/careful if I get stuck in it. I love that it dries out and supports me. I love the freedom it gives me as forebear and role model to be who I am and not worry so much if I’m a little muddy.