In 1604, Miguel De Cervantes wrote his novel The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of LaMancha. For more than 400 years, the timeless themes of idealism, dignity and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds have resonated with audiences around the planet.
Today, as I consider the creative process, I'm struck by the fact that we seem to share a common vision of the quixotic. Maybe it's because we all know someone who has faced or is facing life's challenges with courage and a quiet dignity. I've always had deep respect for older generations; what they've gone
through, what they stand for and where they are now. I was very close
to my grandparents, and learned a great deal about honor and respect for the
people who came before us. That brings me to my latest piece of sculptural feltmaking. The working title is Don Quixote. Here's how he came about. My father has Alzheimer's disease. It's been a difficult time for everyone involved in his care. Tuesday afternoons Dad and I would spend time together listening to music, looking at family photos and enjoying each other's company. My father and I have always been close. Our Tuesdays together allowed us to reconnect memories and share our sense of humor. Our time together provided me with a new perspective on aging and a window onto the slow fade that Alzheimer's disease brings on.
As I've said before, inspiration comes to me in those twilight times between waking and sleep. One Tuesday morning back in June, 2007, I woke up with the tune from the musical The Man of LaMancha in my head. You probably know it- "I am Don Quixote the man of LaMancha..." I thought "hmmm... this has possibilities. I knew I'd be seeing my Dad in the afternoon. The song stuck with me the rest of the day. In fact, my Dad and I even sang some tunes from the play. It was fun. That started me on the journey. After doing some more research, I decided that Don Quixote would be a good starting point for a new figure. I looked for ways to make the piece relate to the process of getting older with dignity and grace. Not just for my father, but for all of us. I also wanted it to convey a sense of humor.
Don Quixote took awhile to complete. There were the usual interruptions that life brings. Of course the wonderful annual NIADA conference in Detroit. More importantly, I had to let the creative process evolve. I'd work on a portion of the figure and put it aside, returning when I had a new idea. I just recently finished him. There are larger views in my photo album New Work 2008. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view.
As usual, the face is done in my dimensional feltmaking process. The body is cloth over a wire armature. I created all of the accessories to personalize the figure.
All of the costuming is original. I used hand-dyed fabric, hand-painted leather and other materials to give the piece a sense of history and faded elegance. After all, Don Q was a knight.