She Comes in Many Forms
Joshua Sabatini on the universal power of art and, well, going for it.
In the Katama house hangs a copy of Willem de Kooning’s Queen of Hearts in the bedroom I still use for writing during the island’s famous summers. I grew up looking at the painting by the Dutch-American abstract expressionist since age 4.
The portrait’s bewildering qualities attracted me to, well, to her.
An event in my life was inextricably linked to the work. One Sunday school day a nun handed me a medallion of the Virgin Mary to say prayers to before bed. Countless nights I did so.
Eventually, I saw the Queen of Hearts and the Virgin Mary as the same woman; one in a classical style, the other in a weird style.
The charcoal outlines full of revisions or living alternatives, the pink veil, the skeleton-like face with translucent flesh and two sets of eyes, the disconnected arms, the screwed on conical breasts, the yellow dress on the seated mother without a child—to name a few peculiar features.
Same woman, same cosmic feminine force.
I had wondered which was more effective, which was right. But that wasn’t the question.
Humanity is forever searching for its expression and the Queen of Hearts tells me no matter how wild it all goes through the search and all the protean forms, she’ll always be there, the mediatrix power in everyone’s finite life, stable no matter into what depths plunged.
Oh yes, and to go for it!
When I take late night summer walks and look up at the horned moon I think of the Queen of Hearts and I think of the medallion and I think of all the other forms and shapes and I wonder what form can I create in these times for the empress of the night.
Joshua Sabatini was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and moved to San Francisco, California, in October 2002 where he earns rent money as a journalist.
The Katama house is a reference to the author's family home in that area of Martha’s Vineyard.
Willem de Kooning was born on April 24, 1904, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He was an abstract expressionist artist best known for his Woman series. Queen of Hearts (1943-46) is held by the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.