10. Alegra and Harley

Alegra and Harley, chalk pastels on paper, 2004

Alegra and Harley, chalk pastels on paper, 2004

Alegra and Harley was one of my first commissioned pieces, for a good friend of mine whose daughter (Alegra) is a young equestrian.  Chris had given me a stack of snapshots to work from, and the one which I based this piece upon immediately caught my eye.

Obviously as this was commissioned for someone else, so for them this work has direct and personal significance.  For me, this piece speaks to the polar opposites of Power and Powerlessness.  Here is Harley, 2000 pounds of magnificent Arabian horseflesh, as he thunders over the jump course.  And way in the background, just blobs of color, are the adults who fancy themselves as “in charge” who for all intents and purposes are completely impotent, relegated to the roles of observer.

And young Alegra holds on mightily, her small body in studied contrast to the power of her horse.  Is she actor or observer?  Every equestrian will tell you that she is in control, that an equestrian never surrenders control.  Yet, on a very physical level, Alegra must trust her personal safety, her position in time and space to a power much greater than herself — a being with its own autonomy and will.

We might marvel at her courage, how often do we in our daily lives unconsciously surrender control?  To bus drivers.  Airline pilots. Elevator maintenance crews.  The guy who rotates our car tires.  Restaurant cooks.   The ferry boat captain.

When Alegra rides Harley, she brings all of our collective fears with you, stares them straight in the eye.  She feels Harley’s beating heart and the heat of his living body directly beneath her.  She surfaces her powerlessness directly into her consciousness, faces it.  Embraces it.  This piece reminds us to have the courage to live our lives to the full.  We should we stop trying to foolproof ourselves and our lives.  Let’s instead embrace the joy and thrill of our relative powerlessness.

~ by Delfino on 2009/02/07.

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