Birthdays, August and Cicadas

My birthday has come and gone. I no longer get quite the butterflies in my stomach that I once did during this time of the year. When I was young I knew that shortly after celebrating my birthday summer would end and school would begin. August is usually the hottest month of the year. Every living thing seems to take the month off except cicadas.
The cicadas have been in fine form this year. The air surrounding my house is filled with their calls. I once did an entire series of paintings based on this mysterious creature. I painted the Cicada series my last semester in college. I had been working on paintings concerning time passage and memories. Memories linked with imagery. I did a lot of paintings during my college years that visually illustrated how my memories are linked to color, form, surface, atmosphere. I enjoyed the challenge of working in the abstract.

I got a lot of arguments from professors and fellow students about universal appeal. How were these paintings going to be universally appealing? I've been amazed over the years to discover when people look at these paintings they are immediately reminded of something that happened to them during the time cicadas call or their first encounter with cicadas. Most find them hideous. Some see the beauty in their color, form, wings and voice. But almost everyone has a story. And isn't that what art should be? Informing viewers. So many times we go through life hearing and seeing things, but until someone paints it and asks us to look at it from a different perspective, we may not truly understand our surroundings.

My memories of the cicada songs are forever linked with my birthday and the return of the school year. Now they are reminders to my watercolor/painting professor. I saw him several years after graduation. He said to me "I always think of you when I hear those damn cicadas." I smiled. It was comforting to know I had passed along a visual and auditory memory. Behold, the universal cicada.

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