To Kiss the Spirits: Now, This Is What It Is Really Like
Genre: Oil on canvas
- Bertman, Sandra
- Date of entry: Jan-11-2006
- Last revised: Dec-16-2009
To Kiss the Spirits: Now, This Is What It Is Really Like is in oil on canvas with a painted frame. The work's center is filled with a column of light that stretches like a holy tornado from the top of the frame to the bottom. Within the luminescence exists a spiral staircase up which silhouetted ladies ascend. As the women move from the bottom of the stairs to the top, their colors change from purple to pink to white. The ladies who have reached the top of the stairs gain wings and fly into the starry night.
The bottom of the painting is lined with small, plain houses, some of which are lit interiorly. The sky is filled with stars, which appear in greater numbers the farther their distance from the ground.
This painting suggests the transcendence of earthly banality into winged grace. Small, dully lit, nondescript houses are exchanged for the glowing and fiery heavens. The ladies, as they ascend from the earthly to the astral find physical transformation: at the bottom of the staircase they are clothed in muted, constraining dresses but by the end of their ascent they are as angels with wings and flowing white dresses.
Sigler, whose work generally addressed women's experiences, focused more specifically on sickness, loss, and death as she aged. From 1985 onwards, Sigler dealt increasingly with issues relating to breast cancer. Her own affliction with the disease, in addition to the loss of her grandmother and mother to it, made the topic supremely personal, and her raw and intense emotions are easily visible in her art.
Regarding "To Kiss the Spirits," the National Museum of Women in the Arts notes (on their web site) that, "in what can best be described as a coda to the 1992-93 series Breast Cancer Journal: Walking with the Ghosts of Our Grandmothers... the painting To Kiss the Spirits: Now This Is What It Is Really Like presents the artist's most hopeful expression to date." Hollis Sigler succumbed to breast cancer in 2001. Her work is widely shown in museums around America.