The Sun and The Moon
by Elizabeth Murray
I discovered this piece at the Phillip's Collection, a short walk from Dupont Circle. When I first saw this painting, it caught my attention with its denotation of chaos. Within that chaos much is connoted about the world and the basic elements of life. The title helps to connote this idea as it names two opposites of the universe, yet two objects that simply cannot be separated. The sun and the moon are both essences of life, of existence. The artist, as I discovered, painted this piece upon her return from brain surgery and during her recovery period at home. After major surgery, life-changing surgery, living may be much different and one has to learn how to function again in basic form before anything more complex can be reintroduced into practice. This is connoted through the artist’s choice to place a human figure in the off-center of the painting that happens to appear re-stitched. The piece abstractly combines windows, which in tradition look outward to nature. The piece also includes clouds (the nature), which either are raining or are crying, or both, connoting the fear the artist had in tying to recover with no sense of where she may be going as well as to the idea of human’s primal instinct of survival. There are also what appear to be music notes, and music happens to be a way for many people to rejuvenate themselves and promote healing. The piece has obvious asymmetrical values, yet maintains an over all symmetry. This connotes the idea that though life may appear chaotic, confusing, and full of detours from the main path, there is still a path, still a place of balance and hopeful outlook. The artist happened to paint this while her brain was still learning to function again and that made the piece even more meaningful to me because not only does it connote those parts, but also the background story allows for those aspects to truly reflect the artist at time in her life where art was able to help her heal.