Art is a ripening, an evolution, an uplifting which enables us to emerge from darkness into a blaze of light. – Jerzy Grotowski
Penny Pocket lives in Windy City. Those are leaves flying past her in the air, not snow, and yet she is dressed as if for winter. It’s not just windy in Windy City, apparently; it’s also quite cold. But neither the wind nor the cold appears to bother Penny. She walks assuredly into it, through it. She has her knee-high boots. She has her hat and her scarf; she has that magnificent winter coat. Its pockets are deep, and warm; her hands are safe in there.
The seven other Pocket People in this series are all dressed similarly to Penny. They walk with the wind at their backs, or into it. Some look straight ahead, their faces expressing quiet determination or contentment, others at the ground, deep in thought. One of them has her eyes fixed on something behind her, a look of uncertainty on her face. All of them, whether they walk slowly or hurriedly, are moving forward; all of them will get there.
The Pocket People of Windy City is a project that excites me. I think about it all the time: on my walks, while I’m cooking, when I’m doing housework or running errands. Who are these people? What are their passions, what are their hopes and desires? What do they carry in their pockets?
Unlike the other projects that have come out of my work thus far, this one presents its entire arch from the very beginning. It allows me to work systematically on the initial drawings to create characters who are consistent in size and aspect. Once all these drawings are traced onto multimedia paper and outlined in black ink, I can start coloring them in. Penny is first. But something is off about her, something feels funny, like a piece of fruit on the verge of going bad. She gets discarded. A new version is traced on a clean sheet of paper and outlined in black ink, but it doesn’t get any color. Instead, this new Penny gets put in a red folder with all the other Pocket People, and the red folder gets thrown into a drawer.
The proverbial bad taste I feel in my mouth after adding color to Penny? Not a piece of fruit on the verge of spoiling; rather, a piece of fruit that is not yet ripe, that needs to sit on the counter for a while. In the case of Penny and the seven other Pocket People: in a red folder at the bottom of a drawer.
Art knows things. Art tells us things.
Soon, it says, you will be turning the page on this chapter called “Brooklyn.” There will be clothes and books and furniture to sort through, clothes and books and furniture to pack; there will be appliances to clean, floors to sweep; there will be paperwork to close out, an address change to initiate.
More importantly, though, and long before the list of physical tasks to accomplish even gets written, there will be questions to contemplate, questions whose answers will determine the success of the next chapter, which we’ll call “Windy City” for now. Who are you? What are your passions, what are your hopes and desires? What do you carry in your pockets?
Until you’ve turned these questions over and over in your mind, until you’ve sat with them for a while, you are about as ready to move to Providence as the Pocket People are to receive their colors. Let them sit in a red folder at the bottom of a drawer for a couple months. Let the answers to the questions they inspire ripen into fruit whose colors are as beautiful as their taste is good and right.
The photo of the cracks for Paddy Pocket is unavailable.