3.28.2007

Meet Merlie Ann---Altered Ancestor #2




5x7 on watercolor paper for an altered ancestors swap in which on the back of the art piece you have a bit written about the life of your ---"adopted" or not--- ancestor. I am having great fun with this project and have actually gotten a bit attached to Merlie Ann.

The image of the bird is a packing tape transfer. I hadn't done one of those in a while and I have made a mental note to experiment a bit more with the different ways to transfer an image. I also used watersoluble oil pastels, one of my favorite things---especially this lovely golden brown color. Wallpaper, a section from an old dictionary and words cut from the pages of several old books. Getting your words from old books, clipping little phrases and putting them together is something I just get lost in-I could spend all day searching, flipping, scanning the pages for that one word that will jump out at me.

This is what I have written on the back:
Merlie Ann Davis Merriweather
1880-1904
Merlie Ann was born on August 1, 1880 to a squat, round-faced woman named Coraline. Merlie's father, Cliff, was sometimes at home, but mostly not. He was like a dream Merlie couldn't seem to recall even when she tried her very best and then just as she would give up on him coming back he would appear into their lives with a presense so wonderful and vivid it was like he had never been gone at all. He stayed only long enough to get her mother once again with child and then was gone again.
Merlie was the oldest of seven girls. She was born during a terrific thunderstorm. Lightning struck and felled a tree beside the house just as Merlie's head popped into the world. Coraline knew her daughter was different even as a young baby. Merlie's eyes would follow things no one else could see and as soon as she could talk she would talk to people no one else could hear. Blackbirds were unusually drawn to Merlie, following her and gathering in flocks amid the trees watching her as if waiting to claim her as their own.
Because of these things Merlie had a hard time making friends, preferring to spend her time alone in the woods, gathering the herbs that her mother would sell at the market. Even her sisters avoided her and after a time so did Coraline.
Merlie knew things before they would happen and as she grew older she began to have dreams of things that would come to pass. In the dreams blackbirds would come and talk to her, taking shapes of people she knew, like the time she saw her father and he was silent and cold. A week later they received the news of his death. Merlie was nineteen.
At the age of twenty Merlie dreamed of a man with hair the color of a blackbird's wing. At the age of 21 they were married and living in a small cabin in the woods of Virginia. His name was Carter Merriweather and he loved all the things about her that others did not. He didn't even mind the birds that cast flapping dark shadows as they flew by the windows.
When she turned 23 Merlie knew life was growing inside of her. Twin girls. Quickening, fluttering like the gentle grazing of wings.
Merlie died on a cold day on the year of 1904. Blackbirds, hundreds of them, gathered like statues in the trees, cawing and cawing, louder and louder, as Merlie moaned and thrashed trying to give birth to the twins she already called Cora and Ruby. Carter paced and prayed along the edge of the field while the old, deaf midwife sweated and prayed alonside his wife.
He knew something was wrong the moment the birds became silent. It was as if they were bowing their heads in prayer. And at the same moment, the moment of her death, Merlie felt like a bird herself, soaring as she was, swift-winged upward, the twins just seconds behind.



9 comments:

Matroskin said...

Your collages are inspiring! I will add you to my link list, hope it's ok!

christine said...

WHOA!!! Now THAT is a story -- This is fantastic, Tricia!!!!!

Joan Ellis said...

Wow! What a story!!

Susan Tuttle said...

Hi Tricia!
I love the new look of your blog!!!!!

What a gorgeous piece this is!!!! Perfect for Spring!

Susan
xo

Hélène Deroubaix said...

wonderful work Tricia! I love it! that woman has a very inspiring face!

blessed be!

Deb L said...

OMG girl!!! WHERE did that come from??? What an amazing story (and equally wonderful artwork). Whoever recieves this one is going to be thrilled!!!

PMB said...

your work is so awe inspiring and this piece is no exception.....the write up is top notch for the image.

"Early Bird" said...

I am here on a visit from Jamie's place!
This is an awesome post! I enjoyed it very much!

karlascottage.typepad.com said...

Oh what a heartbreaking story, loved it.

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