one that breeds
as a: an animal or plant kept for propagation.
For decades, amongst my contemporaries coming up, we shared a common quip, identifying “Breeders” as people who do what we were sure not to do, have kids. Content to work and play in a world of singleness, comforted by friends, associates and a single minded dedication to artistic pursuits.
Despite my resistance to change I had to acknowledge a woman had became as important to my growth as the sustenance gained by eating and breathing. Without ever expressing a demand or ultimatum she was destined to have a child and I grew not to desire fatherhood but rather to see her fulfill her destiny.
Though pleasurable, past sexual relations had always been fraught with psychological, physical and social complexities. Concerns over avoiding insemination, passing disease, acceptance and embarrassment, personal and religious taboos were all, in varying degrees implicit in each embrace.
Suddenly, looking in the eyes of a person who would express her confidence by sharing her sacred purpose with me was without reservation, wholly intoxicating. Conception was deliriously exciting, through all stages, stimulating unknown, truly prehistoric instincts of protection and devotion. Joys and fears folding into waves of excited expectation comparable to my memories of sleepless pubescent nights preceding special glorious events like summer camp or Chanukah; where the greatest of rewards were sure to be revealed.
The highs would soon be accompanied with soul numbing lows as a nurse looked at the result of our first ultrasound and with discreet concern exited in pursuit of the Doctor. The events which followed have become the touchstone of my personal despair and a wrenching bond between me and my wife.
“Baby Girl” was born prematurely at six month of gestation. We lovingly held her as her underdeveloped lungs heaved several futile attempts at breathing and then stilled. With kisses and soft touches we welcomed her tortured body into the world, finding unexpected beauty in her malformations; Six little fingers and toes on her hands and feet, a slightly distended hydrocephalic head and a deep crevasse cleaved from her lip beyond the side of her nose and In an instant, my expectations of an easily controlled, ego based understanding of perfection and beauty were crushed, leaving behind a profound appreciation for the unsympathetic power of nature and my place in it.
The BREEDER series attempts to explore a “divine tension” between compositional discretion and the dynamics of destiny and anarchy, where the dance of self-will and powerlessness find an unsettled yet complete compromise as—growth, death; lyrical, clumsy; bright, dull; fragile, durable; comforting dangerous; exuberant, somber; blossoms, thorns; nestle together.