14" H X 22" W, Edition of 30
Sea Song is a joyful recognition that we are creatures of water, and live on the water planet.
We swim our first nine months in an inner sea of saline fluid. Our blood, in a sense is modified seawater. While we are alive, our bodies are 70% water. We can live weeks --months-- without food, but only 19 days without water. To us, as to every other living thing, dryness is a danger.
And we live on a planet which is 70% covered with water: so much water that if the Earth's crust were leveled -- the mountains flattened, the trenches and valleys filled -- then the entire surface of the planet would be covered by a uniform sheet of water 10,000 feet deep. Of all this water, 97% is saltwater. Of the 3% which is fresh water, 2.3% exists in glaciers and icecaps, and only seven tenths of one percent in all the world's rivers and lakes. So rivers and streams may gurgle and whisper; but the softest call of the oceans of this Earth is a mighty roar.
Surrounded by the sea, kept alive by water, we are thus in our own true element when we swim, though we live on land, so that John Soderberg's Sea Song is of a young woman who has answered the call and is home again.
There were beliefs, though, that took us even further. Mermaids and mermen: humans for whom water is indeed their natural habitat. They could leave that life for land, but not for long. Water also predominates in our beliefs, our customs and our dreams. The most potent aphrodisiacs were said to be those which came from the sea. People everywhere -- Aztecs to Druids to Egyptians and Eskimos to Mongols and Norsemen -- believed that Creation involved a victory over waters and that a great flood wiped from the Earth all life, save a select few who then preserved the human species. World-wide, water cleanses, rejuvenates, purifies both physically and spiritually. The great religions all use water as a powerful immersion as the emergence as a "new beginning" which is symbolic. Dreams of water, say the experts, also symbolize rebirth. And death itself in many legends was a transportation across water to a new existence on the other side.
Sea Song, therefore, is a young woman participating in a potent and universal ritual.
Beyond that, though it is a light-hearted celebration of the music of the sea, where stick-legged shorebirds dance their skittish fugues and the blue and purple, yellow, green and glassy waters boom and trumpet farther out. To return to the sea is to return to beauty, simplicity, and purity; and to return alone is an adventure, a test, a special joy, a confirmation of life and, ultimately, humanity. So we crave the secluded beaches, the deserted coves, where we can commune with the sea, and be reborn to face life on land somewhat stronger than before.
Alice entered Wonderland by shrinking. The young woman of Sea Song does the same. Walking on the beach, she stoops to pick up a seashell and holds it to her ear. She hears the echo of the ocean, the sea's song. So she stops to sit a while on a rock, and casts pebbles into the swells. Like Alice, she shrinks, becomes very small before the vastness of the sea. She shrugs, then stands to cast all clothes aside, and dives in to blink and laugh because she has entered the crashings and sighs of the ultimate seashell, the sea itself.
The sea is always out there, catching its breath and calling, endlessly calling, endlessly repeating to all living things its summons to the joys of return, of leaving land to float a while within mankind's real element and to watch problems shrink into perspective by immersing oneself in a piece on infinity's song.