They Who Go Down to the Sea in Ships

Invictus, Monotype, 15 1/4 x 22 in.

Although my surname might conjure a heritage comfortable at sea, I have had little experience with boats or for that matter large bodies of water until moving to an island in the Pacific Northwest. 

My friendship with families who fish professionally and the stories I have heard them tell have however engaged my imagination and sincere appreciation of what ingenuity, fortitude and mind over matter it must surely take to make a living from a boat afloat at sea. 

I find the concept frightening.  Much of my fear though is not about the hard work or uncertainty of nature but the dependency upon ones shipmates, their strengths, weaknesses and the emotional baggage all of us are born to and carry in our personal odysseys. 

Several Monotypes I have made for the 2010 Vashon Island Art Studio Tour illustrate my reflections upon all of the above and are presented within the context of Odysseus’s misadventures and long voyage home to his beloved wife, Penelope and island kingdom, Ithaca. 

Two of those Monotypes, Invictus I and Invictus II, are named for and reference the last lines of William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus.   

“It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul”.

The Latin translation of invictus is “the undefeated” and though Henley’s words are a wonderful declaration of responsibility and self realization my imagery also reflects the reality that each of us are dependent upon our friends, family, and shipmates even in our personal odysseys.  I may be the master of my fate and captain of my soul but we are, each, all, in the same boat (together).

Invictus ll, Monotype, 10 5/8 x 13 1/2 in.


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