It was in June 2015 that I published a feature on west coast artist Amber Jahn. Who would have thought, at that time, that this publication was to become the most read ever registered by the Bauge littéraire ? Is it because it has been published, right from the start, in two languages, that of the Bauge and that of the artist, opening my french-speaking space up to a much larger public ? Or is it the fascination raised by the tempest of colors that Amber’s brush stirs up without mistake ?
Whatever the reason, today it is my honor to present to you three paintings by this same artist, three paintings bound together by the ancient art form of the triptych, created in the middle ages to serve liturgical purposes. And the presentation of this series of paintings is accompanied by a small text from the artist herself, a text where she gives the story behind the art, something sufficiently rare to make it noteworthy.
« The most intimate, personal piece I have created to date. For Arte Fresca a few years back at Bluefoot Bar in North Park. The show was « Shattered » so I told the story of a young me in the first painting sitting on a bench daydreaming. In her thoughts (which I created bubbles of plexiglass for) were three events. First her graduation, then her wedding day, then her and her husband on the day of the birth of her first child. In the second painting the young girl has grown and is sitting on the ground surrounded by the broken pictures of the life she had now lost. The frames made of plexiglass were affixed onto the painting at a 20 degree slope and were actual pictures of my wedding, my husband and I, my kids, and my family. In the last piece the girl is now an older woman. You are looking at her through the keyhole of a closed door. She is looking back over her shoulder with a camera in one hand and a key in the other. The key is made of plexiglass and says…for a life I lived, lost and have not mourned.….until now. Signifying her letting go, having closure, and moving forward. I have only shown this triptych once. For this show. I knew it was much too personal of a piece for anyone to buy. I painted it for me. I’m still working on that process and am looking forward to walking away with that key. Soon. Very soon. »
Each one of theses paintings can stand on its own (this being a fate suffered by many a medieval painting torn from its original context by greedy art merchants and collectors), but one may gain a better understanding by not ignoring this supplementary dimension added by the individual paintings being part of an ensemble. As is the fact that one learns about the story behind the paintings, about the personal background where they stem from, revealing the possible meaning of the empty faces, meant to be those of the artist herself, during the different steps of her life. It’s as if the memory, history of the human being, had been outsourced, ground to pieces that one has to grab for in order to not get washed away by the stream of the passing years.