This post is about beginnings. The birth of the idea Ceremonial cloths. My first piece of conceptual art made after a break of 20 years. A new understanding of my process. And the introduction to my story as told through my art.
Ceremonial Cloths is Born
On November 1, 2003 I attended a Wiccan ritual for the first time. It was a dedication ceremony for my niece who was about to begin studying Wicca for a year and a day. It was a ritual about beginnings, starting on a new path for my niece as well as for the rest of us attending. It was lovely and meaningful, and I was surprised when I woke up the next morning to a flood of insights that came throughout that day and the next. (It turns out that November 2, 2003 was nine years and one day before receiving the Best Proud Past Award. Hmmm…) The biggest insight was that I now knew what I needed to do: Ceremonial Cloths, custom made with love and reverence, and a need to serve the Divine through this work. Wow, was that an enormous order to fill. It has been a long, slow process to get to the point where I now feel truly prepared and ready to do this work. And so I begin my story…
The next five years were very busy on a personal level, which included my father dying, moving and joining Kadima in 2005 to start our son’s Jewish education to prepare him for his bar mitzvah. And finally on December 11, 2008 I finished my first piece of conceptual art in almost 20 years. It just so happens that I’m writing this on December 11, 2012. Another ‘interesting coincidence’?
“Homage to Eve – Amidst the Swirling Mists”
Homage to Eve – Amidst the Swirling Mists — Mixed media; wood, silk threads, paint, 5-3/4” Dia. x 4-1/4” – © 2008
This small sculpture features a female figure in the center of a spiral of small dowels. The threads coming out of her ‘feet’ swirl around her but don’t touch her. That’s partly how I felt at the time. It was like I was caught in the middle of these swirling mists where nothing was tangible. There was nothing I could touch or get a hold of. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my work. There were so many options and possibilities but it all felt so vague and out of reach. The only thing I knew was that it would be something to do with my art and spirituality. The ceremonial cloths seemed like an impossible dream hidden in the mists.
“Homage to Eve ” was directly born out of my explorations of my spiritual path. Along with attending Jewish adult education classes at Kadima, I’ve been studying various Earth-based religious practices and traditions. When I made this piece I was in the middle of studying the Ogham, a system of knowledge from trees in the Celtic tradition. I was studying one tree a month, and that month the tree was Hazel which was about creativity. I had also recently received the book listen to her voice, Women of the Hebrew Bible, by Miki Raver. The challenge for that month of study was to create something in honor or in homage to to one of the Biblical matriarchs. I chose Eve. Her name means “Life -Giver” or “Mother-of-All-Who-Live”. “Eve was the first human to embody the divine process of creation.” (1) This piece gave birth to the renewal of my creativity and my art.
Several years later, I finally woke up to the fact that this is part of my process, the way I figure things out. Being a visual thinker makes verbal communication a challenge at times. I will often get an image, perhaps a few words or a phrase to go with it. Then I start thinking of ways to create a 2 or 3-dimensional representation of it. Now that I am allowing myself to go ahead and create these pieces, I am learning from them. Sometimes ideas pop up while I’m working, but often I need to study the finished piece for a while before the meaning(s) would become clear. And sometimes a piece will continue to tell me things as time goes on. This piece is a good example of that. It wasn’t until I was writing this post that I realized something very significant. When I made this piece, I knew I hadn’t been making art for a very long time, but I hadn’t realized how long, and I certainly wasn’t expecting this piece to open the door to creating again. So the fact that I chose Eve, “The-Mother-of-All-Who-Live” as the subject for a piece about creativity, and the results of that choice, seem very powerful to me.
One more thing to say about all of this, the theme that runs through this post is listening to Spirit. As I truly believe that, fundamentally, everything is connected in some way. When there are ‘coincidences’ or when things happen on an anniversary, I take it as a message from the “Great Whatever” to pay attention.
The plan is to tell my story through a series of posts about my art. Each of these works tells a piece of the story of how I have gotten to where I am today. Look for the next post in this series at the new moon in January. It will be about “Finding the Patterns in the Puzzle of Life”.
(1) Miki Raver, listen to her voice, Women of the Hebrew Bible, (Chronicle Books, 1998), 25.
paperback version ©2005