Tara Gentile, who is coaching a group of business owners (yes, I’m in the group!), inspired us to clarify the big picture for our businesses. I’m trying to set down in words my why…the why behind the creation of my images. Where do all the insects, birds and other creatures come from, or why do they appear?
When I was in college studying art, I was fascinated with non-western art: I studied the art of the Ivory Coast, the art of Zimbabwe, the stories of the Yorubas, ancient Egyptian art, Minoan art, Native American art; I was in love with the Minoan snake goddess, the Egyptian ushabtis and scarabs, Peruvian textile art.
I spent as much time as possible visiting my favorite museums: the Louvre during my year in Paris, trips to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and to the Met when I lived in Massachusetts, the Smithsonian when I was in my native Maryland.
Although the large scale sculptures were impressive, the small amulets, figurines and everyday objects held the most fascination for me. I could study them for hours, amazed at how the artists or artisans incorporated these beautiful images, which embodied so much meaning for their culture, into seemingly banal objects, tools, utensils or decorative items. Which meant that the people were daily surrounded by the images and symbols that held spiritual and cultural importance. These images supported what they believed, and helped them through difficult times, or through the passage from one life stage to the next.
Each time I left a museum, I would wish I could touch some of the objects, hold them in my hand, feel their weight and texture, have them with me, contemplate their meaning. No, I didn’t ever want to steal anything. It was a longing for meaningful objects in my life. And this led me to create my own. I began to work on smaller sculptures, amulets and figurines in ceramic.
Today I work in ceramic and textile. I believe that people need ritual and myths in their lives, to get from one stage to the next, to deal with difficulties, to find their place or identity.
“It has always been the prime function of mythology and rite to supply the symbols that carry the human spirit forward, in counteraction to those other constant human fantasies that tend to tie it back.” Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces)
“…there is something in these initiatory images so necessary to the psyche that if they are not supplied from without, through myth and ritual, they will have to be announced, again, through dream, from within…” Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces)
According to Campbell, in the absence of the medicine-man, the witch-doctor and the shaman, we have psychoanalysts.
Or perhaps the artist.
I aim to help people find objects that hold importance for them, a symbol they need at a certain time in their lives. My creatures come from nature, inspired by myth, story and folklore. You can connect to one that is right for you. You can grasp it, wear it, contemplate it, incorporate it into your personal ritual, let it remind you of your strength, your connection to something bigger, your power, your wisdom, your resiliency in the face of difficulty and change.
What images do you surround yourself with? I believe it matters.