Thursday, July 12, 2012
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.