The Nina Simone song Feeling Good (originally released in 1965) and, actually Nina Simone herself, have had a resurgence of popularity which, like most things that are rediscovered, is good or bad depending on your perspective. I like her and I specifically appreciate this song and although I don’t think that her music should be used to hawk automobiles I certainly don’t see the harm in her getting a little love and spreading the music down to younger music lovers across racial lines.
It’s a new dawn/It’s a new day/It’s a new life/For me/And I’m feeling good.
In my mind which was formed by stories of young, penniless, Europeans leaving lands of little or no opportunity and traveling to the almost mythical America, Ellis Island was the quintessential place to experience the sensation of new dawns, new days, and new lives.
Which is why I named this piece the way that I did. However, I am completely aware that my interpretation – and my feeling of this song matching my artwork – is likely not one with which Nina Simone would necessarily agree. Feeling Good was originally a show tune commemorating a black character’s moment of triumph and considering Simone’s own life experiences, the Great Migration, and her growing participation in the civil rights movement it’s likely the song was performed with an entirely different type of journey in mind.
In New Day New Life (Ellis Island) I only used two photographs preferring to use plain, unadulterated colors to do most of the heavy lifting. The original 1913 photograph taken by Edwin Levick and accessed from the New York Public Library’s Digital Collection depicts a man standing and looking out over the water in New York Harbor with boats and the shore line in the distance. I kept only the foreground elements which I blurred significantly to increase the perception that he is not a specific man but instead represents every man. The water was replaced with two basic blue bands symbolizing the ocean and conveying distance while instead of a shoreline I used a hardworking, industrious, blue steel-tinged gear as the rising sun. The sun-like effect includes highlights of yellow and orange which contrasts with the blues and provides a nice little visual pop. I wanted to maintain the impression of this being a specific moment in time because you only get so many new days and new lives so I reintroduced a series of borders to the image.