"Lilies and the Hare"

Oil on board

24x48"

I started “Lilies and the Hare” a few months before the outbreak of COVID-19, but quickly pushed it into the “unfinished works” pile. Curiously, as soon as the pandemic was declared, I eagerly plucked it out of the “unfinished” stack and started painting. To me all works created during times of hardships end up being “portraits” of the time, even if I am not depicting the events literally. Although I envisioned the story for this painting long before it’s initial sketch or the emergence of the virus, I suppose it just wasn’t complete without the pandemic, as it brought a whole new level of emotion and understanding.

The painting is about soaking in the sweetness of life and indulging in it’s joys, exploring depths of friendships, love and intimacy, introspection and internal balance, all while navigating life’s chaos and accepting the inevitability of death. Why the hare? The hare emerged as a “spirit animal” to me when I was going through radical and intense changes in my life, thus becoming a symbol of life, courage, chances, creativity, vitality, and, of course, those big, life altering leaps. In the painting the Hare embraces uncertainty: it lays strong, dignified and at peace atop a pile of lilies-the flowers often associated with death. I am sure we all felt a bit more vulnerable, more helpless, a bit more ...mortal during this pandemic. 

Death gives life value. So I want to remind the viewer that despite all hardships and chaos, our lives are still ours to live, to feel, to explore and to enjoy. The bright colors of the painting represent vitality and vibrancy of life: what a miracle it is to be alive! The two tea cups symbolize the beauty and depth of human connections: vulnerability, history and that special intimacy with our friends, family or lovers that can only develop from honesty and time. In a way, reconnecting with people we left behind, perhaps even saying our peace or getting closure has been the quarantine’s silver lining for many of us. The quiet times of isolation also brought many opportunities for self reflection: to me “Matryoshkas” (Russian nesting dolls) became a symbol of introspection and peeling away layers of conditioning and various belief systems, as well as celebrating my own heritage. At times we are so scared to look inside because we are terrified of what we might find! By digging deeper I realized there is gold inside of me and there is even more to discover! Balloons are like colorful markers on our timelines: birthdays, weddings, graduations, anniversaries, recoveries and so on. “Lilies and the Hare” ended up being full of meanings and symbols, and the more I worked on it, the more stories it told. 

It has indeed been a difficult time for many, and I was not immune to the stress and anxiety brought on by COVID-19. I am, however, grateful to be creating and translating my thoughts and feelings into my work and sharing with others! 

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 © 2023 by Inna Rohr