Saturday, January 31, 2015

Miriam Angel falls down the Rabbit Hole

I fell completely down the Rabbit Hole this week.  
Welcome to Wonderland.  
If you see Alice, give her my best.

Instead of working with my image of Mary Jane Kelly 
(I have been tinkering with it for weeks - 
decided it was best to let it simmer for a while), 
I found that my mind kept coming
 back to Miriam Angel.

I went back to the internet and poked around 
a little more.  I found an in depth article 
from 1887 about the trial which went into more 
of the specifics and particulars of the case.  
I did learn that Miriam Angel was indeed married 
and she was killed in the morning after her husband 
left for work, but that is about all we 
learn about Miriam herself.

The article does a nice job of covering the trial, 
so if  you are interested, just click HERE.

There are several discrepancies between this article 
and some of the other sources that I have found.  
The names of Israel Lipski's employees are 
slightly different in this article and he is 
referred to as a maker of walking sticks 
whereas, elsewhere, he has been called 
an umbrella salesman.

Since Lipski claimed that his two employees were 
really the perpetrators of the horrific crime, 
I would be interested to know what paths 
their lives followed after Lipski was executed. 
 If they were the thieves and rapists that Lipski 
claimed, I would expect that they would 
commit further crimes, but I haven't seen any 
references to this anywhere on the internet.

Of course, it has been 125 years.

Still, I always come back to the nitric acid.  
Why did Lipski buy it?  At different times, 
he said he intended to use it to stain wood.  
Later he said that he intended to drink it 
to take his own life.  It was the method used 
to kill Miriam Angel.  Lipski never satisfactorily 
explains why his two employees would 
have possession of the acid instead.

I keep coming back to that little bottle which brings 
my mind instantly to Alice and Wonderland.  
Add in the questionable umbrellas and there is only one
 direction to go - straight down the rabbit hole!

I had a strange compulsion to make this piece. 
 It felt a little insensitive to the memory of 
Miriam Angel and her child, but it has been 
125 years.  Sorry, Miriam!

Two pieces in and I still cannot get the case out of my head.  

Be warned that more Miriam Angel is to follow.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Miriam Angel

I went a little off script this week.  
I've been working on a series about 
the victims of Jack the Ripper.

Almost every investigative book only concerns itself 
with the identity of Jack.  His victims are 
dismissed as aging, alcoholic prostitutes.  

While I am fascinated by an historical murder mystery, 
I don't like the glossing over of the victims.  
No matter their age, or what they had to do 
to survive in the dangerous world of 
London's Victorian East End, at least the victims 
of Jack the Ripper were not murderers.  

Their stories are more worthy of exploration 
than that of the brutal animal that killed them.

That noted, I stumbled on another Victorian murder 
case which bears a tangential relationship to 
that of Jack the Ripper: the puzzling murder 
of Miriam Angel.

Her convicted killer was named Israel Lipski.  
One of the potential witnesses to 
the killer of Elizabeth Stride heard one of the 
two men near her utter the name, "Lipski".

Was Lipski the name of her killer?  
Was Lipski used as a derogatory word aimed at 
the passerby witness?   125 years after the last 
of the Ripper slayings, the debate rages on.

What of Miriam Angel?

Six months pregnant, Miriam Angel resided 
in a boarding house at 16 Batty Street on the East End 
of London.  On June 28, 1887, someone forced her 
to consume nitric acid, resulting in the 
death of herself and her unborn baby.

Israel Lipski, an umbrella stick salesman, was 
found under her bed with acid burns in his mouth.  
Lipski was arrested despite his insistence that  
his employees, Harry Schmiss and Henry Rosenbloom, 
had actually killed the young woman, forced him 
to also consume some of the nitric acid 
and then fled the scene.

Lipski was quickly found guilty and sentenced 
to hang although there was a great deal of 
public debate in regard to his guilt.

The case was reopened but Israel Lipski broke 
down during the investigation and made a complete 
confession to the crime.

Doubt about his guilt continues to this day. 
Israel  Lipski was the subject of an 
investigative book in 1984 as well as 
a 2011 publicly conducted debate.  

A wonderful discussion of the whole of his case 
as well as the racially charged atmosphere of 
Victorian London can be found HERE.

But, again, what about Miriam Angel?  Her life and 
death are given but the most brief mention 
before moving on the interesting bit 
about her murderer.

Who was Miriam Angel?  Was she married?  
What did she do to support herself?

Why was living alone?  Where was the father of her baby?

We shouldn't just be glossing over the identity 
and life of a young woman.

She deserves better.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Have you seen me

While working on this piece, I was torn between the titles 
 "Have you seen me?" and "Got Milk"?

"Have You Seen Me?" finally won out.

The idea of the piece is simple enough: a lovely cow ballerina 
with her milk bottle balloon floating over a lake of milk.  
The milk lake and the sky give off a white winter landscape 
so it seemed like the perfect piece for today.

For me, by late January, winter has begun to seem endless.  
Too many cold, gray days leaves me longing hopelessly for spring, 
knowing that it is still many weeks away.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Steampunk Ideas

Over the course of a day, we have ideas.  
They drift in and out of our minds.  
A light bulb goes off here.   
An epiphany occurs there.  
A little later, a moment of serendipity.  

Too often, we have that bit of insight, 
a brilliant idea for an art series, and then 
just as quickly, it's gone.

Last year, I participated in a course of study,
"The Artists Way".  One of the main tenets 
of the course is the daily writing of three pages, 
every morning, without fail.  

The course helps you excavate into your past.  
It  helps you look for those moments of 
past trauma that are echoing into the now, 
possibly blocking the flow of your creativity.

I loved the course as well as the other participants.  
I felt like I gained a lot of insight into my past
 as well as my current struggles with my creative self.

The course wrapped up last December and 
I have made a point of continuing my daily pages.

When I have an idea, I now have a place where it is 
recorded for later (I underline and star those bits!)  
A lot of it is gibberish, venting, and a staging place 
for my plans for the day, but the ideas 
that appear on my daily pages delight me.

They are a delightful series of little light bulbs going off! 
 I am trying very hard not to let them fly away!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Long Liz

Long Liz is the third piece in my Jack the Ripper series.

By its very nature, the subject of a mysterious serial killer is overwhelming sensationalist.  

So much of the fascination with Jack is that we just don't know who he was.  Most likely, we never will.  I love a good mystery, and these crimes were committed over 125 years ago so the worst of the horror of the crimes has faded.

At its heart, though, this is still a brutal crime perpetuated against women in the lower class, labeled as the unfortunate.  Tragically, even after so much time, the same attitudes about and against women continue to flourish in the world today.

Elizabeth Stride was killed in what has become popularly known as the double header.

The daughter of farmer Gustaf Ericsson, and his wife Beata Carlsdotter, Elizabeth was born in Sweden on Nov 27, 1843.  She seems to have taken up the career of prostitution early on, giving birth to a stillborn daughter in 1865.

She moved to London in 1866, possibly in domestic service to a family.   She married John Stride, a ship's carpenter in 1869.  The two kept a coffee room for a time, but separated by 1877.

Elizabeth seems to have been fond of dramatic stories about her past, telling acquaintances that she lost her husband and children in the sinking of the Princess Anne in 1878 (her husband died of tuberculous in 1884 and there is no record of her having any children after 1865).

Like the other victims of Jack, Elizabeth seems to have had a drinking problem.  She kept company with a labourer named Michael Kidney but the two had separated a few days before her death.

On the night of September 30th, her body was discovered at about 1 am.  Although her throat had been slit like that of the other Ripper victims, her body sustained none of the mutilation of the other victims.  This has led to the speculation that Jack was interrupted in his kill or even that she was not a Ripper victim at all.

Regardless of your opinion on the identity of her murderer, Elizabeth "Long Liz" bled out on the pavement across the street from a social club.

Less than an hour later, only a short walk away, another woman died in an even more brutal fashion.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Happy Caturday!

Wishing you a very pleasant and enjoyable Caturday!

Cats are a bit on my mind at the moment as 
a congregation seems to have moved in under my house.   
I am fond of the general animal, the cat, but 
don't care for the yowling under my window.

Of course, if they were as charmingly dressed 
as this young damsel and her even younger charge,
 I might feel quite differently!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Take off your Mask

I blogged recently about wearing masks, to hide who we are and what we feel.  

We're always wearing them.  

We're always crafting new ones.

Why are we afraid to show our real face?  
More specifically, why am I afraid to show my real face?

People ask me often why I became an artist.  I didn't grow up thinking I was an artist.  
My very earliest art teachers assured me that I was 
completely and utterly without any sort of talent.

I preferred the written word.  I love books. I love fairy tales.  
I dreamed of publishing a novel someday.  I even majored in English literature.  

Somehow, though, I ended up selling vintage clothing online.  
Then, I parlayed my love of jewelry into a jewelry design business 
which led to graphic design.  Finally, that bloomed into surreal art.  

In the past, I have characterized my art career as a natural progression,
 a sort of inevitable evolution, but it really isn't quite that simple.

Whether we are visual artists or poets or musicians or novelists, 
we're all trying to convey something: an idea, a passion, or a truth:
 maybe a universal truth, maybe just a personal truth.

Very recently, I had a moment of epiphany.  
I started my serious pursuit of surrealism as a shield, as a mask to hide behind.  
I tinkered with graphic design, yes, and a little art alteration for several years,
 but I can date my real foray into art at the same time that 
my husband was diagnosed with cancer. 
 It was the perfect outlet for hiding from the pain and the the fear.

Strangely, this never occurred to me before.  

Intellectually, I know that art is a form of therapy.  
It's a way to express emotion and trauma. 
 I know that, but I didn't know it.

My surrealistic fairy tales are the perfect escape and, ironically, 
the perfect expression of my fear and my grief.

So, maybe I've peeled off another mask.  Maybe I can let 
my vulnerability and hurt and fear and grief through for a moment.  
I don't know.  I still feel like I hold my mask in a death grip, but I am trying.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dark Annie

This is the second piece in my Jack the Ripper series.

The brutal murders by Saucy Jack have been debated and remembered, almost glorified, for the 125 years since he killed at least five women in the impoverished section of Victorian London, known as Whitechapel.

His victims are little remembered or, oftentimes, completely altered in the fictionalized world of Jack the Ripper literature.

His victims were all prostitutes.  They were alcoholics.   They were eking out the most tenuous of existences in a time and place that gave little thought or concern for the poor, especially women.   Life had been hard on them, but they were surviving.  

They got up every morning from a pallet rented only for the night and went back out into a world where they had to earn money daily to pay for their food, their drink, and another hard pallet on another crowded floor if they didn't want to sleep on the cold street.  They were struggling against difficult odds.   They did what they had to do to make it through another day.

Jack murdered women that had already been victimized by  their time and their circumstances.  They deserve better from us.  

Dark Annie (aka Eliza Ann Smith) was born in 1841. In 1869, she married coachman John Chapman. They seemed to have gotten along well enough, living in London and having three children together, although their only son John was disabled.  Annie's husband took a post as a coachman in Windsor, and then their 12 year old daughter died shortly thereafter of meningitis.

Both turned to drink, more and more heavily. By 1884, they separated. Her husband died in 1886, leaving her without financial support so Annie took to supporting herself via prostitution.

By 1888, Annie was herself dying of a lung and brain disease but she continued to eke out an existence in the dark world of Whitechapel until her murder on September 8, 1888 in a brutal and horrific style.

Annie Chapman, you were haunted by events in your life.  You loved and lost two of your children.  You were dying of a slow and painful disease.  I know that you deserved a chance to make your peace with this world before you left it.  You deserved better than a brutal death on a dark night.  Good bye, Dark Annie.  Rest in peace.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Another Happy Caturday!

Tonight seemed like the perfect time to share my new Caturday picture!  I realized that it was long past time to feature the lovely little head of our youngest kitten, Onyx, the Destroyer of Worlds.

He makes a singularly lovely Victorian girl!

It has been a weekend full of wonderful art and activity.

I've lived in Baton Rouge for several years but have only recently discovered how many wonderful things happen in this city.  

I never quite adjusted from my move from New Orleans.  I was always in love with the Crescent City and wasn't happy to move, but I am finally opening my eyes to the wonderful activities and locations in the capital city.

Last night, my daughter and I attended the fabulous Laurel Street Palooza.  It was a wonderful street party full of art and food and music.

Today, we attended the Photography exhibit at the Arts Council of Livingston Parish.  The council featured three mini seminars full of photography tips about equipment and software.

How could I have failed to notice a community brimming over with culture and art?

I think that wherever you find yourself, you should explore your community.  You may discover, like I have, that all around you wonder is happening.  Open yourself up to  it.

I am starting to fall for you, Baton Rouge.   What else do you have in store for me?