“Life in Death”
Paper-mache Construction (2017)
I constructed a paper mache mask this past October in honor of All Souls Day (Nov 1st) and Dia de Muertos, celebrated on November 2nd. At first, I attempted to paint the mask in the tradition of Hispanic artisans, but found I could not. I am not Hispanic, and it made no sense to me to attempt to mimic one…..
I am however, a collage artist. I applied my skill to try and explain what death means to me….. I looked at lots of pictures in magazines and chose those images that had a symbolic resonance about death and dying. Death is as much about Life as being born. Everything on this planet is birthed into being, and everything passes away. Nothing and no one is free from this Transformation.
I need to explain that I “borrow” symbolic images from a variety Peoples. I mean no disrespect to anyone or any culture in doing this. I am of mixed heritage, with my genetic makeup comprised of Spanish, Mexican, French, English and Irish roots. I simply believe that symbols are part of the human subconscious and is a language we all can understand.
I began my collage layers at the top of the skull using pictures of the dark night sky with stars. We come from starburst. My next layer laid down over the forehead was of dawnlight, symbolic of Life awakening in us as well as in all living things. I chose the image of a hummingbird feeding on a flower on the forehead. Hummingbirds have many symbolic meanings, but the Taino tribes of South America saw the hummingbirds as a symbol of rebirth. In fact, the hummingbird was the symbol for the one who spread life across the world.
Pink roses grace multiple locations on the mask. Their symbolic meanings were first recorded in Greek mythology. It was believed that roses originated from Adonis, who was the deity of plants and rebirth. Pink roses symbolize gratitude, grace, admiration, and joy in life.
On the left side, you will find the Coyote and Deer. In Native American stories, the Coyote is an important messenger of personal transformation Not all Native American stories see the coyote as only good or only evil, but most believe he represents a balance. Balance cannot exist without both good and evil, life and death, beginnings and endings. In Celtic symbolism the Deer is both male and female – the Hind is the feminine aspect who can access the fairy world and teaches humans about spirituality. The butterfly is a symbol of change, joy and color. The exquisite blue butterfly was considered a miracle of transformation and resurrection. The Bluebird is a symbol of the angelic realm. It’s meaning is one of happiness grace and delight.
New art forms take time to unfold. I’ve been teaching myself to make photographic montages for the past month. It was a spontaneous expression, I never even thought about working with photographs before. I have been working in collage and montage for 2 years now. All hand made, cut out pictures from magazines, glued to sharkboard or cardboard mounted. The process takes days and are quite unique. For example, I finished a “Holy Card” series of 15 smaller pieces which depict teachings from my Catholic background as a child. The montage below is titled “The Garden of Gethsemane”. It symbolizes the story of Yesuah’s betrayal the night before he is killed. Red is an important color in Hebrew traditions and represents “life in the blood”. Mars at the top symbolizes agitation, strife, aggression. Each item used in this construction is cut out by hand and pieced together.
I have applied this concept to taking photographs and layering them using multiple photo editing programs. The current montage series relates to my love of Mother Earth, and reflects my interest in Nature as a biologist, botanist, ecologist and herbalist. A real different medium to work with, especially with taking photographs. This piece is comprised of 5 different pics: A selfie of me, trees in my back yard, a sunset over Ash Creek, a photo of clouds and another pic taken using crystal reflections.
This one is titled “Heart Song”. I have a few posters and cards to be added to my Etsy store for purchase. They will be available at the end of January…… enjoy!
I want to update my blog post to include the jewelry I have posted on my Etsy storefront named “FoxMtnFolkArt”. I know that folks have been trying to gain access to the site, but I am a little bit in arrears in catching up with my blog post and sharing sites.
I had a conversation yesterday with my older sister, and she recommended that I clarify who I am and what drives me to make the jewelry compositions I create. For example, I am currently in the process of creating a montage series called “Gaia” this year. I plan to have the series printed up as stationary cards and perhaps small posters. She did not understand what the word “Gaia” meant or the theory behind it…..
First and foremost, I am a biologist/ecologist at heart. My artistic expression is seated deeply in the science and physics that explain our world. Gaia is a concept formed in the 1980’s of the Earth functioning as a living organism, having a consciousness of its own. It’s natural systems work just like any other organism it has created on this planet. The earth breathes, digests, respires, has internal checks and balances to keep it healthy. I took my first class on “Global Ecology” as a graduate student at the University of Nevada Reno. I still have the book. My eyes were opened to the theory of Gaia as I studied the complexity of her chemical and nutrient cycles and delicate interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, geology and biota of this place. My respect for this planet became entrenched within my heart at that time.
My interest in rocks and geology came about from working in mineral exploration with an exceptional woman, Dr. Nancy Parduhn-Jackson. She (We) built a company named Cerus Exploration Technologies Inc. located in Sparks, NV back in the late 1980’s. She specialized in soil bacteria, more specifically Bacillus cersus, a microbe which has evolved with the capacity to survive and thrive in metalliferous soils. I was hired on as a laboratory assistant and to develop the use of plant tissue analysis through biogeochemical assay to locate buried ore deposits. Our combined exploration techniques were surprisingly successful. This work took us into the field where we laid out sampling grids for collection of soil and plant samples. We spent a lot of time looking at the ground, and rocks in particular. Nancy taught me so much about geology….jasperoids, jadeites, beryl, altered andesites etc. Rocks that had been changed under high temperatures, pressure and water in the mantle of the Earth crust.
My geologic learning was a natural influence in working with semiprecious stones. My own curiosity has lead me to expand and learn about the electromagnetic fields of the earth, the vibrational frequency of atoms, and the vibration within matter and all living things. Although the theory of chakras is introduced from India, the idea of energy centers within the human body makes sense. The new physics of string theory and the effect of planetary electromagnetism on the human body is being studied…..fasinating stuff to this nerd in sheep’s clothing. So, back to jewelry creation…..
I use semiprecious stones in my jewelry. I understand the resonance principal behind Crystal healing or stone healing. Although empirically it is difficult to prove that wearing a quartz crystal will enhance the vibration of the human electromagnetic field for balance and healing, I can understand the probability that it could. That is why I create jewelry with stones identified by various sources to resonate with various energy centers of the body…….
So now you know where I come from when creating my art pieces. Visit my storefront on Etsy…..FoxMtnFolkArt. Enjoy!