Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shape-Shifting


The mythology theme has really been a challenge for me.  While it spurred me to read a lot of different myths from a lot of different cultures, I wasn't finding any one myth that felt like the right inspiration.

Meanwhile, as a wholly separate task one day, I pulled out some work in progress that I've been storing in my closet, pieces that had stalled for one reason or another.  One of them, the core of the piece you see above, is something I was working on a year ago.  I'd started with a piece of hand-painted fabric, the multi-colored piece with doodly black lines.  I liked the effect of the city-like aerial view, which caused me to silk-screen birds over the top ("Of course! Put a bird on it!") But something about it wasn't working.  Despite my playing with different cropping options (which you can read about here) it just didn't feel right to me.  So, into the closet it went to marinate a bit.

When I pulled it out that day, the birds made me think of the myths I'd read about crows and ravens.  And one of the common traits attributed to crows in various cultures' myths is that of shape-shifting.  Some Native American tribes believed that Crow was the keeper of the sacred law and could shape-shift.  He was seen as an omen of transformation.  Crow can move through space and time, they believed, and has the ability to move in the past, present and future at the same time.

One source I read about "Crow medicine" said that when you meet Crow, he could be telling you that there will be changes in your life, and that you must be prepared to let go of your old thinking and embrace a new way of viewing yourself and the world.

Suddenly, this piece resonated with me on a number of different levels.  I'm going through a period in my life where the lessons I am faced with are all about transformation.  I started playing around with cropping my unfinished piece to 20x12, and suddenly, it felt just right. And that's shape-shifting of another, literal kind, isn't it?

It got me thinking about how we as artists and quilters may start with an idea or image in our heads, and sometimes we carry the "myth" that things have to take a certain progression, that we need to push things to where we think they are supposed to go.  Maybe it's the expectation or myth of a tidy beginning, middle and end.  I'd love to think that as an artist, I can envision what I want to make, jump into the process, and end up with a piece that is just what I pictured.  But it doesn't happen that way to me -- in my art process or, really, in my life in general.  So as I adapted this piece for the Mythology challenge, for me my piece is about embracing transformation, being open to things changing in new and unexpected ways.
 

13 comments:

Gerrie said...

I love the colors and black lines in this background. I remember other work you have done like this and it always resonated with me. Crows and ravens are interesting birds and have such personalities. It makes the myths and stories about them all the more reasonable!! I like this very much and think you deserve a big hug for pulling this off, right now. Thank goodness for the WIPs we have marinating in our studios.

Helen Conway said...

The term marinating is a great one in this context! I think that often we use the term creativity to denote a time specific imposing of our vision on an object we form. In fact creativity is an ongoing and accumulative bilateral process in which we are changed even as the object changes in response to our touch. (Oooh. I feel a Tea and Talk For Two Blog post coming on. Let me make a note of that idea in my Filofax!)
In any event I am glad your UFO shapeshifted into something less alien! Surely birds are also a representation of lightness of being and freedom in flight?

Kristin L said...

It's wonderful when something that was not previously working takes new flight when the circumstances are right. I also echo Gerrie's sentiments of wonder that you were able to (re)create this piece in the midst of turmoil.

Terry Grant said...

A great piece! The black lines on the fabric really surprised me because I have been thinking of just that sort of thing and hoping for the time soon to get some black paint in a little squeeze bottle. Now I am really inspired. And I love your idea of myth, shapeshifters and the myth of "how things should be." Perfect.

What Comes Next? said...

this is a fabulous piece - it marinated perfectly.

Brenda Gael Smith said...

Wow, that tight cropping really transformed this piece. You get a sense of an intimate bird's eye view rather than floating way above. You've created your own magic trick with this one. Bravo.

Françoise said...

Excellent transformation of an UFO! Actually, this piece could fit in our three "M" themes.

Deborah Boschert said...

Oh I love Francoise's comment ... it really is metamorphosis, map and mythology! Super cool.

Great job, Diane! I really love the title too and without your artist statement, it could mean different things to a viewer, which means it totally stands on it's own as as inspiring piece of work.

I really love the balance of the green with the doodly colorful fabric. I love how it creeps up the right side and just peek over the top edge.

Nikki said...

I love that you were able to transform a UFO into a beautiful piece of art for this theme.

My major experience with crows was when I was 9 months pregnant with my oldest. I would walk for hours trying to induce labor. The crows would always follow me and squawk. Now I know why.

Del said...

A very good piece - the background is a knock-out. Congratulations. [Laptop almost back in shape, so I can answer some e-mail]. Del

Karen Rips said...

Great shape shifting going on here Diane, and I like the bird mythology. The background was worth stashing away for future use

Terri Stegmiller said...

I want to think that when you started this piece a year ago, it knew then that you needed to wait to finish it. Almost like with the myth, it was looking into the future and knew you would need it for this challenge. I love the colors and design in this.

Anonymous said...

I have been following the '12' for awhile, being inspired not only by your radically different artwork and approaches to a theme, but also the sense of your connection to each other.
When I opened this post I gasped... it spoke to me with it's beauty, the wonderful linear quality, it's sense of magic, possibility and a touch of foreboding.... so glad the background was waiting for you. "All in good time" as they say.

Kat wtrstone@aol.com
(Hate posting as anonymus but blogger does not like my AIM account)