The knowledge I am interested in is not something you buy and then can have and be comfortable with. The knowledge I am interested in keeps opening wider and wider making me smaller and more amazed until I see I cannot have it all - and then delight in that freedom"
Color can have both physical and psychological effect on the mind.
I began working on this series in October. The beginning was conceived as a commission for a lovely client who wanted "my next new piece" with the small caveat that she had missed out on the purchase of a piece that she couldn't quite shake..."Don't mess with mama bird". I had been wanting to push the boundaries and explore a bit more thoroughly the "Mama bird" and "Trying on Chicken" and "Mr. Henry" series which include a masked person. (The mask is something that I have yet to explore in verbal form...it is intense and will take me somewhere. Later.)
Once sketched out I realized very quickly that this composition needed exploring . So I set out to explore it through the effects of 2 primary colors and their unique energies. I wanted to create 2 pieces with similar composition yet distinctly different colors and work with the energy the colors create while using different patterns. I knew intuitively the feeling I was going for...but wanted to go about it in nearly opposing ways.
Understanding red to be a strong and intense color, I chose a larger, looser pattern so as not to bombard the senses with a frantic energy that can be attributed to red. I chose to work blue- a typically more calming color- into a piece in a smaller, tighter, more precise pattern.
What transpired was a deeper look into color theory, color therapy, sacred geometry, historical and cultural symbology, spirituality and meditation through patterns. What happened, was exactly what I had hoped for.
As "realize", "grow" and "outgrow" are now out of my hands, under glass and on their way to a city near you, I offer up the information I have that will hopefully convey in words what I attempted to convey in batik.
Color is a vibrational energy- natures scale of vibration is wide, it begins with sound, merges into thermal heat waves and these vibrations climb the vibratory scale as the temperature increases into the vibrations of the radiant heat waves in the infared which reach up the the visible red of the light spectrum. (Also why so many visual artists are inspired by music- the sound waves)
Each color has a distinct frequency or vibration due to it's wavelength- red is the longest and the first to emerge on the visible light spectrum with blue being significantly shorter. (Red hits you hard, quick, while blue rolls in subtly)
Sensations of color can be perceived according to vibration, not unlike the pitch of a note depends on the number of vibrations of the sounding body. Music and color carry some of the same information, delivered to the brain at different wavelengths. Artists and musicians have been exploring this correlation together for eons.
Since I worked mainly within these 2 primary colors, I will list some of the attributes that have been given to these 2 colors.
Blue: (royal, turquoise, and indigo)
Communication, gathering information, love, self respect, individual responsibility, calming , nurturing, inner peace, restful, openness, cooling relaxing, deep changes, insight, wisdom, unity, safety, clarity, clairvoyance, seeing, 3rd eye, clear perception inside and outside oneself, honesty, integrity, higher heart, desire.
Red: (red, crimson, scarlet)
Power, energy, life force, initiating, pushes through, fire, stimulating, ambition, change, survival, awakening, emerging, passion, danger, pioneering, physical/material side of life, outflowing and manifestation of principle, affection and human feeling, will.
As far as the patterns are concerned, I chose for the blue a precise pattern that has roots in sacred geometry and is based on mathematical properties and patterns. The Seed of Life. For the red piece, I wanted a corresponding pattern done in a looser manner to diffuse the energy of the red.
Working patterns into the fabric has been for some time, a meditative process for me. Patterns are similar to sutras and mantras in the Buddhist tradition- repeating a truth over and over until it is part of you, until it IS you. There are weeks in the studio when all I do for 6 hours a day straight is draw circles with wax. Patterns and symbols have been used in most all forms of written language (and sometimes AS the written language) to convey ideas, beliefs, and stories. Adinkra - used in West Africa- are symbols with hidden meaning, that represent concepts or aphorisms and are used extensively in pottery and fabrics. According to Anthony Appiah, they are the means in a pre-literate society for "supporting the transmission of a complex and nuanced body of practice and belief". Adinkras and symbols are being explored by physicists for their use in explaining string theory. Symbols and patterns are really all about non-verbal communication - which is my favorite kind. Working these symbols and patterns into the fabric essentially infuses the fabric with this meditation and information, the hot wax also heat setting the color into the fibers. There are also hidden hobo symbols in there...you'll have to be up close to see. (More on that in another post)
What ended up happening through the months of this process felt very profound. In many as of yet unnamed ways I was changed. Subtly and vividly.
My intent for this process was to create distinctly individual pieces that could simultaneously convey their own message through particular color and patterns while also working in harmony with one another to communicate a message together, as separate notes in a chord.
The hope was that when people approach these pieces, they will be drawn to one or another, depending on their own personal energy, and to see how the different colors affect the viewer. What I didn't expect, was how wildly effective they were for me in the creating of them. I can only hope that what I experienced in the process will be even slightly conveyed out in the world.
Hi. Maybe we've met at shows, you've asked me questions, I've answered politely, excitedly, in caffeinated whirlwinds and in deep exhaustion. You've asked very basic questions about the process and very sincere questions about the inspiration. I've looked at you and tried to gauge just how deeply to delve, how much of my innards to divulge, while also eyeing the other customers in my booth. I've recited the "process" part ad nauseam...
Each piece is a whole story inside itself, from the birth of the idea through the process to the execution of said process it speaks to me. It's roots grow deep down turning the humus of my life. And then, when it is time, it goes out into the world to speak to you. I struggle with how much of my own story to tell along with these pieces, partly because the stories are given to me in pictures- colors, patterns, light- not words. Certainly at a busy show it is not always the most appropriate time to spend the better part of an hour on these subjects, and truly, in those situations, I want to know what the piece says to YOU.
But here...for those interested...maybe.
So, I will attempt to break the process down for us- the physical creating part along with my own process of creating. I will answer in more detail (and hopefully with more coherence), some of the most asked questions a.k.a. "Why do they have no faces?". You can take this at your own pace, and so can I.
I do love the part of my job where I get to see people, talk with folks, share emotion...However, I get tired and then I feel badly not giving my whole effort in each interaction. I really love the part of my job when I'm in my studio, alone. I'm hoping that this is an opportunity for us all to be able to dig a little deeper, please ask questions. I will attempt to answer them here as fully and honestly as I can. And we can be sitting in our own comfy chairs all the while.