Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness. There is no life in them. As I am forgotten and would be forgotten, so I would forget. Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And god said prophecy to the wind, only the wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping…
End of the endless journey to no end.— T.S. ELIOT — Ash Wednesday —
The World Bone Project
Just show me a sign. Any sign. It was one of those spectacular autumn days when the leaves move, skimming the ground in a circular dance with the wind.
No sign. No mother. Nothing but a squirrel eating. The wind. Beauty. But no sign.
So I continued in this godless world knowing no sign would come to me. I had lost my mother — as people do — to illness at the right age (she died at 86 a few months prior) and I searched for what people say are the signs from the dead— a brush of the wind, a coincidence or uncanny moment signaling that we were still being watched over.
But then came the evening of the pork shoulder. Three days brining. Nurtured along in sugar and salt. It was for a dinner party. The removal from the oven was ceremonial.
It seemed a requirement that I burn myself at least once during every cooking session, which I did regularly. There were small indentations and miniscule scars to prove it. So I was careful and measured with this one’s removal. The meat had separated from the bone (it is best to keep bone — in with your pork shoulder) and as I turned from the oven to place my offering on the table, trying not to fuss with the pan and make a mess, that bone went flying out of the pan across the room.
I was convinced that in that instant the uncanny had occurred in my kitchen, and so a believer was born. It was a sign.
A sign from my mother.
So began the World Bone Project.
The Space Between
The body as location, as both subject and object, and the ways in which memory and trauma have their way with us is my endless fascination. Memories and trauma register in the body, forming an uncanny presence that awaits articulation. I return again and again to the body as self, as home. We inhabit this place that is an exquisite corpse. In this meditation on the body and its interior and the world in which we are located, I encounter the space between longing and loss, memory and its erasure, permanence and dissipation. Memory is a resurrection, a retrieval, a lullaby.
City of Women
City of Women is an encounter with the confusion about what happens to a woman’s body over her lifetime. The female body is a mystery as is her psyche. A woman is defined by her seasonality.
The body is inscribed with history; the body is a story-teller. A woman travels internally, but also in tandem with other woman and their cycles and rhythms. A woman’s body carries the markings of her travels, knowing that her path is recognizably female.
A woman’s body is a meditation.
Francesca Schwartz likens the developmental process to creativity and the making of art, and has consistently merged her psychoanalytic practice with a background in the performing and fine arts. She studied at the School of American Ballet when it was under the direction of George Balanchine. When she left that world she went on to study literature, psychoanalysis and painting, followed by a PhD in Psychology. Early in her career she has treated dancers and visual artists. She continues to treat emerging artists in her practice.
Francesca also focuses on adolescents, likening this developmental phase to the creating of art. She is especially interested in the creative process in working through mourning and trauma. In her teaching, this joining of development, creativity and the making of art comes together. Her art making now is through sculpture, working with bone, metal and artifacts to address some of the same questions confronted in her practice, of finding meaning through the articulation of the unconscious.
She resides in Manhattan, the home of her practice, teaching and art making.
New York City