When Innocence Leaves You by guest blogger, M. Rae. She has a book out that I very much enjoyed. The link is below:
So, I'm the guest blogger, I see. Carl has asked me to discuss this painting, his first oil in awhile. Honestly, when I saw it, it took be aback. It's jarring, it's disturbing, it's Bacon-esque. And it made me feel uncomfortable things. It made me think. That's how you know an artist has done his job; art is supposed to make you feel something, it doesn't have to be hearts and flowers, it can be any feeling, as long as you feel something.
Now onto my feelings. After the initial shock, it made me think of two very distinct events in my life when the innocent face of childhood was stripped from me. The first was my 9th birthday, July 27, 1980. I was a daddy's girl and my father's mini-me. Where he went I went. He was a proud and distinguished military man and when I was young, he was in charge of certain barricks (for the uninitiated, barricks are where they house soldiers who aren't living in family housing). The barricks containing my father's office were referred to as D-27, a neat communal type place with an efficient, if not overly nosey cleaner named Lena, and about 30 young recruits. I was their unofficial mascot for years. The boys from Quebec taught me French well before I walked inside a school, the others fussed over me. I was given endless amounts of treats and attention and best of all, I got to go to my daddy's work.
On that fateful day in 1980, with my mother standing in the background, arms folded in resolve, I was told I was no longer allowed to go to "camp" as my father called it. Apparently, there was something under the towels the young recruits wore exiting the showers that was a problem. Well, all the young men I ever met were fully clothed and respectful. I never saw a towel. I was crushed. What I got from this was somehow, there was something wrong with me, I was being punished for something. I had no idea what, but apparently, and in my mind at the time, it was turning 9. Somehow, growing up, the one thing I so wanted to do, was a problem. Looking back, it wasn't..... I had no interest in towels or what was under them (and again, was never exposed to same), I just wanted to hang out with my father at his work. First little chunk of innocence gone.
Fast forward to 1984. I turned 13. I knew about towels, sort of, but not really. I still had no clue exactly what was under them and I thought Geroge Michael was straight and he and I would be married when I grew up and became beautiful and got boobs (spoiler alert, he died before I got boobs, and he wouldn't have cared anyway). The point, I was still naive. There was this book, an old one, that was all the rage. A name in literature I had never heard before, given my literary knowledge was Shakespeare, Judy Blume, and whomever it was that wrote those Sweet Valley High Books (damn that Jessica!). This guy, George Orwell wrote a book about 1984, it was on the news, adults were talking. I was a precocious child (intellectually, not socially, you understand), so I desperately wanted to read this book. It was forbidden to me. Like that stopped me. I was able to seripticiously get a copy. Creeped me the F*&k out! I can say I didn't understand all of it, but, I can say there was another moment that took some innocence. I began to question what I was being told, by my parents, by teachers and anyone else in general. I wasn't going to be under the control of "Big Brother". It was my first introduction into the idea that maybe everything I'd been told wasn't true. Well not really, but the first one in official print. I questioned things before, the church, the existence of god, why the rules were the way they were, but I never saw something in actual official print that seems to back up my young burgeoning feeling that something wasn't right with the line I was being asked to tow.
That's what this piece is. I know it looks like an evil baby Hilary Clinton. Because she knows what's up. She's been inside, she knows what time it is. So do I, now, but this piece is about those tiny bits of blissful innocence life just takes from you when you move from a little girl to a woman. It's necessary, it's a transition that needs to happen, but there's a sadness in it. I still mourn the days I could have spent with my daddy at his job, days when we could relate to each other, because I was soon to become a stranger to him, something and someone he simply couldn't understand desipte his love. He tried, but a man with a grade 4 education had a difficult time relating to an awkward girl, coming of age in an era of unprecedented sexual and social freedom and who loved philosophy and literature. I wanted to talk about ideas, he wanted to play crib. And I did, all the time, as much as I hated it (I still hate cards), because I loved him....another chip in the youthful armour, sometimes you gotta do stuff you don't like.
Sorry, back to the painting. Evil Baby Hilary is the best possible depiction of what happens to us. We're young and happy, with gorgeous smiles, innocent, the world is a place of safety, of wonder and fun. Then, it shifts, it just does. For some of us, that shift is easy, maybe gradual. For some of us, it's sudden, a big ass jerk out of the life we knew 24 hours before....and those are the people that'll get it.