I finished a round piece recently. That’s a rarity anymore. The year my mom died, 2006, was a difficult transition in my personal life and for an artist that means there’s going to be some kind of impact on your work. The result is not easily predicted, especially the long-term effect. But the short-term effect is often a disruption in the flow of ideas or in the creative urge. For me it not only slowed down my production, but caused me to re-evaluate why I make what I make.
By 2006 my signature pieces were usually round disks counterpoised by lines, ladders and flowing waves, punctuated with richly colored, textured surfaces. They indeed looked like giant brooches and years before I had named them Jewelry For the Wall after having been asked so many times if I had once been a jeweler. It was a catchy name that people could easily remember. However, I had been about the last person to recognize them as jewelry pieces. To me they were signs and symbols. They were cosmic bodies interrupted by event horizons. They were stars spinning on an axis. They were about energy flows and they were symbols pointing us to the heavens in order to understand what lies beneath our feet.
I don’t know what the casual viewer thinks they are other than giant eye-candy. But I can tell you that circular format is powerful and for me and many of my patron’s my suns, stars and moons are meditative icons.
Since mom died I’ve only made a fraction of the number of round pieces that I had done in the previous 7 years. Each is now more personal. Before she died I made a horizon piece . The heavy atmospheric dark top half of the painting hangs over the lower white half. Thick and textural, the white is almost claustrophobic. I titled it “Distance”. I hated to see it go, but alas I can’t keep making them if I don’t sell the babies.
Several years later I thought of making a sister piece to “Distance”, but after working on it for several weeks, I abandoned it when I realized that it was merely a shell of the original. That’s how it came to be standing in a dusty corner for several years when I decided recently to clean it up and rework it. With a new clarity I could still feel the power inherent in that symbol and I let the energy flow. Instead of being impenetrable doors that wouldn’t/couldn’t open, the carved blocks feel now like energized gates that could swing open giving access to the power on the event horizon. The energy flowing through that edge, spills upward into the dark, powerful atmosphere above as well as into the more delicate entangled veins below. Such is the complexity of life in the cosmos. Welcome to “Heaven’s Gate”.