A new series, "Revel in the Details" will feature an artist giving the personal story behind a piece in their body of work. Have a particular artwork you would like to discuss? Email Rebecca Rafferty at firstname.lastname@example.org with a "Revel in the Details" suggestion.
Auburn-based artists Noma and Jim Bliss frequently collaborate on emotionally expressive, acrylic and mixed media paintings. Their recent body of work, "World without Pain," emphasizes the importance of humanity reconnecting with the natural world, and with one another.
"Right now it's all about technology, and pushing a button," Noma says. "Nobody talks."
Despite the name of the series, one untitled work deals with some excruciating territory.
- PHOTO COURTESY NOMA AND JIM BLISS
"This particular piece is about caring for one another," she says. "Compassion versus time and money."
Jim's health has been mysteriously failing over the past year. He's lost a frightening amount of weight because he can't keep food down, and he suffers from chronic, debilitating pain, Noma says.
The couple's efforts to seek answers from doctors have so far been fruitless. But the part that disturbs Noma the most is the way they have been treated by some of the physicians they've seen.
Noma calls the painting a self-portrait of Jim and herself. At left, a figure weeps while she cradles another who lies prone across the bottom of the picture, with a breathing mask over his face. The tilt of her head mirrors his.
At right, a third figure represents a doctor, who seems to be more machine than human, and wears a medieval plague mask. He points toward a tiny door. "He's telling us to leave," Noma says, "and telling my husband it's all in his head."
The painting recreates a real interaction the couple had with a time-crunched doctor who said "'I only have 15 minutes, I don't have time for this,'" Noma recalls.
Noma selects the palette for each painting the couple creates based on subject matter -- here, the array of gloomy dark grays and vivid reds are meant to convey the couple's bleak experiences.
But a delicate, key-bearing tree is sprouting from the nurturing figure's head, which Noma says symbolizes her idea that humans need to reconcile their disconnect with nature and with one another.
"If we don't get back to being with nature and animals and the earth, we're nowhere," she says.