TO THE LIGHTHOUSE
The lighthouse in Bolivar, Texas, one of two surviving iron lighthouses on the Texas Coast, is one of the most prominent historical landmarks on Galveston Bay. It was erected in 1873 and operated until 1933. During the Galveston hurricanes of 1900 and 1915, as many as 125 people found refuge inside the iron tower.
A lighthouse, with its connotations of refuge, illumination, and salvation, is the central metaphor of Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse. Woolf spent childhood summers on the coast of Cornwall near St. Ives. To the Lighthouse, although set in the Hebrides, is an essentially autobiographical work which explores the secret, underlying relationships of the family, the intensity of childhood experience, and, importantly, the role of the artist in interpreting these deepest and most universal of human feelings.
My piece, inspired by Woolf’s novel, is an attempt to possess or to appropriate her text and to remake it into my own. I have overlayed each page of the novel, from beginning to end, with a visual “text” which interferes with the printed words beneath. Importantly, many of the images are of the Bolivar lighthouse and the Texas coast, sites of my own childhood experiences. Thus, the piece is, in effect, a synthesis of my landscape, location, and language with Virginia Woolf’s. It is a way of coming to terms with my sense of identification with the author and my profound admiration for her accomplishment.