Staged at five in the morning, Floodplain is easily the most controversial painting in my Hours of the Day series. It depicts a woman alone in the pre-dawn light, giving birth in the mud. Her face is wrenched in pain as she bites down on a scrap of cloth to silence her screams. Illuminated by the beam of a flashlight, she grips the neck of her infant in a desperate effort to expel him from her body. It is a straight-forward image of a thoroughly human experience, yet one that is rarely ever depicted in Western Art.
Hey Scott, Great painting. Wen you were working on it, we talked about other paintings that actually showed a birth and didn’t know of any. Is this still the only one as far as you know?
No, as the last facet shows, google has provided a couple of examples. I’ve asked people to post more if they find them. Damien Hirst, shock artist extraordinaire, did one seven years AFTER mine! I’ll bet he sold his, though…
Bound for daylight with the sun about to rise behind her head is indeed hopeful. Five in the afternoon would be a wholy different narrative… Such great lighting throughout this entire series!
Thanks, Sarah. The 5 in the afternoon piece, Mothers on the Mount, is also dedicated to motherhood, and is one of the more hopeful pieces in the series. All the pieces link, one painting to the next through various compositional or content elements, but often they relate to their opposite hours, too. Another example is the next piece I’ll post in this series, the 6 a.m. Lotus Flower. It has a caught fish that appears in The Reception at 6 p.m., served up for dinner.
Despite the presence of other’s while giving birth, I found the experience a solitary experience in every way. Joy and terror, courage and insecurity…every polar emotion flooding through me, ripping through me. After the flood comes the beauty.
Nicely said. After the flood comes the beauty… and then parenting, a much harder trial than birth.
Most western male artists probably were never even present at a childbirth. They didn’t have a clue what it was like.
“Is it better to give birth in the presence of my husband? Before giving birth to their children many future mothers ask this question. On the one hand, of course, it’s good, when the closest person will support you in this crucial moment. And on the other, it’s bad, because man, seeing the whole process of childbirth, with all its details, sometimes loses sexual interest in his wife.”
Scott, you have a good point. It is a big thing that woman survive now because of c-sections. My mother, during delivery, the doctor measured my head and her pelvis was too small. She has a tiny pelvis, so both my brother and I were birthed this way. I always think about what the outcome would have been have she been a woman in the years before this procedure was done. It’s scary, especially seeing as she had two healthy kids and she is healthy herself. So many woman must have died.
Scott, this is one powerful painting. It reminds me of the polar scientist who treated herself for breast cancer when in Antarctica.
Yeah, I remember that story. I think women are a lot tougher than men, when push comes to shove…