Enter Into Joy

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Why 29 Pieces?

Question: Why 29 Pieces of art (not 28, not 30)?

Answer: The 29 Pieces start with a phrase from St. Augustine (“If the very world should stop”) and end with a phrase from St. Therese of Lisieux (“Dying of love is what I hope for”). From the beginning to the end, there were 29 Pieces, and then it was finished. 

This is a question that I am asked frequently - why are there 29 Pieces? What is the significance of the number 29?

29 Pieces reflects the experience as it came to me – fully formed in a transporting combination of the words of historic figures, and my own visual and verbal responses. I read the texts, and they opened a portal to a sacred, artistic journey. In Piece #1, with the St. Augustine quote, I was asking myself, "If the very world should stop, is my spirit where I want it to be?" My answer to myself at that time, was that it was not. After the completion of Piece #29, inspired by the quote from St. Therese of Lisieux, "Dying of Love is what I hope for", I had my answer, it was complete, and I knew the destination that I would be heading for. I started two other models, but never finished them, as they soon felt superfluous.  

But there is an interesting preface to the appearance of the number 29 in my work. This was pointed out to me recently by my friend Will Richey, of Journeyman Ink. Will is a gifted writer, spoken word poet, performer, and teacher. Will noticed that in a newspaper story that I wrote and illustrated for the Dallas Morning News, the number 29 came up several times. 

The newspaper piece is titled One Bullet. It was published in August of 2003, and it chronicles the after-effects of a murder that occurred in our front yard on August 19, 2000. A young man was senselessly murdered during a robbery and attempted carjacking. The perpetrators were on video tape, 29 minutes after the killing, using the victim's credit cards to buy gas and junk food. There were 229 murders in Dallas that year. The young man who came to our door on the night of the murder, shouting that his best friend had been shot and was dying was 29 when the story came out in the Dallas Morning News.

I don't know if there is a connection. I do know that the senseless murder of a young man in my front yard changed everything for me. In doing the story, I made the conscious decision to allow myself to fully connect with every person I interviewed . . . the twin brother of the victim, the mother of the victim, the shooter, the shooter's mother, the friends who were with the victim that night, the fiancee of the victim, the father of the victim, and the homicide detective. When it was all said and done, I had heard and absorbed the infinite pain and chaotic cost of the loss of one life. I came out with a visceral understanding of the connectedness of all life, and the cost to all of us when one life is senselessly cut short.

— Karen Blessen


Post a Comment