Celestial Bodies part 1

A mixed media painting of the pillars of creation and a person melting into them.

The last month has been a bit strange, and tumultuous. Grief is really weird, and not linear, at all. For us, the constant impulses to bake mini cupcakes and make a Sim version of every single one of our friends so that we could put them up in nice apartments where they would all be safe FOREVER.. those impulses eventually wore off, and they left us in this really barren ruin of a place that we have always called the infinite place. Most people just call it despair.

The infinite place is cold, and lonely. Even though we Emmengardians are all there together, we are still so incredibly alone. We all stand apart looking into the gaping maw of eternity and wondering what is the point of everything. Why is there pain? Why is there heartbreak? Why are there those whose existences have been made so miserable, that death is a yearned for escape?

We spent many years in the infinite place, many years wishing we could somehow just stop existing. Going back to that place after finally having left it, is in some ways harder than all those years we lived there.  

When we finally were able to get away from the infinite place, it was like finding our old selves, it was like remembering who we really were. We very quickly forgot about how dark and how desolate the infinite place is.

After Kevin died, and after our impulses to bake and play Sims wore off, we were left with that long stretching feeling, where we just don’t want to do anything.  All the color has been drained from the world, all the flavor and richness is just gone. We drift in the eddies of time that have run off course in the vast flatness of the infinite place. We are just waiting for the winds to change. It is like waiting for a curse to lift, waiting to receive that spark that will guild us out of our despair.

That spark came in the form of a painting, as it so often does. Finna conceived of a painting of the universe and a person with their arms out stretched, melting into everything. We got our therapist to pose for it, so FInna could sketch the position of the arms from the angle she wanted.

Finna said “we have to do this painting.” The therapist said “Why?”  Finna replied “Because it is what is next.”

The therapist asked “What happens if you don’t?”  The answer is nothing. We don’t mean that in the sense that nothing bad will happen, we mean it in the sense that simply NOTHING will happen. If we do not follow that spark, there will not be another, not for a long time.  Nothing is basically the worst thing that could happen, just more nothingness stretched out before us.

We don’t fully understand the spark ourselves. It is somewhere in the realm of things spiritual and mystic. When we make art from that place, it is always something we only feel the vaguest sense of ownership over. In a lot of ways it doesn’t feel like it is coming from us at all, but being whispered through us.  I can’t tell you what this piece means. It will mean something a little different to everyone who sees it, even us.

All I know is two things: 1 for us, that painting was the first spark leading us out; and 2 when, in the course of painting it, we covered up the figure, we sobbed.  

We didn’t cry at Kevin’s funeral. Funerals are crowded and awkward places, and we are always on high alert around crowds. We couldn’t cry there, but alone in our studio, as the deep blue dripped and flowed, covering up the silhouette of a person, we burst into tears, suddenly and unexpectedly. We sat and cried for a long, long time.

The name we gave that piece is “Surrender,” but the true name of it is closer to the root for Shalom and Islam: SLM. It is an old root word that means something in between surrender and peace.

As we got closer to the end of the painting, we started to feel more ourselves, we started to feel as though the clouds where slowly clearing, and we could even imagine it being sunny again. We were not out of the woods, but we were at least moving. 

It was a few days after finishing “Surrender” that Kai found the next spark to follow.

We’ll tell you all about that, next time.


Take care of yourself(selves),

<3 Conrad