Seven Susans of Seneca Falls
Material: Oil on canvas
Forget conventionalism, forget what the world thinks of you stepping out of your place; think your best thoughts, speak your best words, work your best works, looking to your own conscience for approval. – Susan B. Anthony
There are 4 billion Susan B. Anthony’s in the Naked City and these are just seven of them, who I call “The Seven Susans of Seneca Falls”.
Susan B.’s humble grave is buried two miles from where I am writing this. The day following any election (which the day I wrote this happened to be), her headstone becomes completely covered with the little, round “I VOTED” stickers that poll workers reward voters with. Expecting this, grounds keepers now slip a plastic “condom” over her headstone to accept all these stickers, so those same stickers can be re-used four years hence.
In this painting, eyeglasses become links in a chain, for a common vision, and water flows from Susan’s hearts, then swirls and bubbles about to trim her clothing, in another connection, this one referring to Seneca Falls, NY, which was not Susan’s birthplace, but rather where the movement for women’s voting and other rights were birthed. The water also connects woman and earth. Do not take this lightly.
There’s a lot of Upstate New York in this painting, with its 19th century traditions in water-cures, free love, new high thinking, high love, free thinking, love thinking, new thought, plain living, ditch digging, phrenology, traveling clairvoyance, Christian science, utopianism, spiritualism, atheism, mesmerism, harmonialism, inverted mysticism, deism, Mormonism, aesthetic materialism, evangelicalism, illuminism, political and social activism, conservatism, liberalism, nationalism, socialism, Marxism, romanticism, neoclassicism, symbolism, schismism, and yes, even Swedenborgianism. All of which also happen to be ingredients of Walt Whitman’s poetry. He contained multitudes, you know.