Sometimes it seems we need to circle things before we finally come home to them. You might say that such describes the artistic journey of Sandra Meyer of Atlanta. Ultimately, she was able to circle round and come home to brush, panel and paint. We are glad that she found her way.
In experiencing Sandra Meyer’s artistry, we feel as though we are invited into a room wherein we discover the horse as symbol and artist as dreamer. What is more, we are invited, almost required, to become the dreamer ourselves. One work, one dream, leading inexorably to the next.
Take, for example, her work Beauty and Truth. Here, it is as though a majestic grey horse were placed in the corner of an enchanted dream that you have just stepped into. It asks you to look at the form of the horse in a way that you have likely not ever done before.
Beauty and Truth
The dream here is composed in significant part by the contrast between the physicality and defined lines of the horse’s head and the surrounding lightness and vagueness of the flower-filled “air”. On the one hand, there is the solid, physical presence of the horse’s head, its forehead, honest, firm and true to the touch, offering a kind of reassuring certainty, a grounding in the earth. Indeed, the idea of the horse itself suggests a certain grounded honesty and truth. You can put your hand on this “idea” and feel its solidity and be supported by it. On the other hand, we have the fragility and beauty of flowers and leaves suspended in an enchanted space. In one respect, and one respect only, there is expressed in this duality the need to appreciate and understand both flesh and spirit. Perhaps it is here that we find the meeting of Beauty and Truth.
Still, beyond this initial appreciation for the painting’s beauty, we cannot help but feel that there is more involved here, that something more is asked of us as observers. It is as though we are invited to pause and reflect upon what the horse, in its abstracted essence, means to us. The works of Sandra Meyer thus transplant the horse from its familiar, every day, surroundings of paddock and barn and meadow into an abstract landscape of the imagination. Her works, from one perspective, achieve a kind of distillation of the idea of the horse into a purified essence: they ask the viewer to consider the horse as symbol, residing independently and essentially in the world.
Given the considerable weight of the horse’s presence in human society and history, it is in our blood, in our very nature, you might say, to try to understand our relationship with this awe inspiring animal, one which until relatively recently has been our constant companion. The horse remains for many of us, as it did for our ancestors before us, a beloved personal and familial companion.
While celebrating this connection, Sandra Meyer’s works, however, ask us to look even beyond it. How do we think of the horse on its own terms in its relation to the world? What does the horse mean to us? What does the horse mean to our community and the wider world? Could we think of the horse as a kind of measuring stick of our humanity? Does the horse symbolize our ability, or at least potential, to be compassionate to the natural world, and thereby to ourselves? Is the horse even perhaps a kind of natural observer and marker of human history, given its current roles in human life, but also its multiplicity of past roles? Is the horse thus a kind of natural mirror of the human predicament, reflecting back to us an image of ourselves?
Perhaps from still another perspective, the works of Sandra Meyer ask us to consider how the horse fills our lives with beauty and truth because the horse adheres to its own spirit, the horse remains true to its own nature. In remaining true to that nature, it achieves beauty within the parameters of its own existence. Its mere presence, or portrait, in turn, invites its observer to do the same.
There are, to be sure, further and important perspectives that remain unexplored here. What seems clear, however, is the invitation of Sandra Meyer, slipped under our door, to experience her paintings of horse-bound dreams is one well worth exploring.
WHO IS DOUGLAS ALLEN?
Douglas Allen is a PhD Candidate in History at the University of Toronto. His historical studies are of late medieval and Renaissance Europe. He is interested in using the lens of identity to explore and understand history, human motivation and action. Douglas is also a writer who is currently writing a novel set in the City of Winnipeg in the 1980’s, which explores the nature of indigenous and non-indigenous relations.