"Hello, Mary."
She looks up at me. Her eyes are large and black. Her hair and lips are black, too, and her face very pale. She is wearing a grey sweater and black jeans. She smiles at me.
"Just a minute," she says, "I have to do this blood test." She pricks her finger with a tiny metal thorn. A drop of blood forms. It looks exactly like ink. She guesses the question I am about to ask. "My blood cells contain melanin and other pigments," she says. "It's all part of this..." She gestures around the room, taking in the grey books, the white carpet, the black furniture. Her whole life, she means.
"Do you mind?" I ask, turning on the voice recorder. It had to be painted before I was allowed in. The red light was removed.
"Not at all," she says, as she finishes her test.
"What's that you're reading?" I ask, gesturing at the papers on her desk.
"Oh, some new papers on neuroscience, art theory, philosophy. I try to keep up to date."
I ask some more questions about her work, her life at the Institute, her friends. Finally I ask her the question.
"I've thought about it, of course," she says. "That's what my work is all about. I feel apprehensive, sometimes excited, sometimes a little scared. I'm not sure what people will want me to say, even when it's over. How will I be able to tell them what it means to me? How will it solve anything?"
She shows me her paintings. They are done with Chinese brushes and black ink. There is a stormy sea, and a dove, and a raven. The last one shows Noah, climbing out of the ark, looking up and wondering.


Popular Posts