Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Project 1 of "Project 8"

Howdy! I’m Catherine Witherell, pmc (precious metal clay) and mixed media artist.

I’m “IT”. I’m going to set the theme of our artwork for the month of January for Project Eight. We are eight artists, 7 of whom I am thrilled to be connected and working collaboratively with, through the wonder of the internet.

A little about me:

I was raised by my Hungarian immigrant parents in a Canadian public elementary school back in the 60’s. I pretty much was taught I had to figure out how to do something “serious” and become a “professional”. I was instilled with a good puritan ethic, translate that to “work before play”. My family moved to the U.S. when I was 13.

It was in the 70’s, when I was in my teens, that I became truly aware of my surroundings but didn’t have the vocabulary or the skills to fully express my experiences verbally or visually, and I fell in love with images, color and art history.

The sixties and the ensuing “fallout” of the next 20 years altered much in my mind and many others. Now, especially in America, we live in a time where many people believe you can be whoever and do whatever you want. With a great idea you can even be rich. In the 80's I got married, lived communally for 4 years and had my children in my 30's. It was after all that I called myself an artist.

So, referring back to a group psychedelic experience I had when I was young, before I thought of myself as an artist, I got an early glimpse inside myself . Swirling circular patterns of flowing color. At the time I thought everyone there that day saw the same thing I saw, but later I realized that was not the case. For me in hindsight it is a clue to what is inside me. I am not encouraging anyone to go out and have that kind of experience. For one thing, now it’s illegal. It is just something that happened to me and is part of who I am today. I live in the San Francisco bay area with my husband of 21 years, our son (12 years old), daughter (14) and 2 dogs. I love it here.

Each of us has a picture in our minds, a thumb print stamped on our brain. It was there when you were born and I’m of the opinion it doesn’t change. But our eyes and skills get better and if we attempt to express it I think it makes us happy. If we ignore it, then that is one of the things that contributes to our unhappiness or sense of “Is that all there is?” Even if we express ourselves just a little we are certainly happier doing what we were meant to do.

You don’t have to do it all the time, maybe 1/2 hour a day or once a week for a few hours a week. But making art, your definition, is a good way to go.

For me, ART is:

1. pretty
2. not always pretty
3. makes me think
4. feels good
5. makes me uncomfortable too
6. it just is
7. is whatever YOU say it is

two of my favorite symbols: the circle

and the flower

The theme I have chosen is “Mandala

Mandala is Sanskrit for circle - a symbolic diagram used in the performance of sacred rites and as an instrument of meditation. The mandala is basically a representation of the universe, a consecrated area that serves as a receptacle for the gods and as a collection point for universal forces. Man (the microcosm), by mentally "entering" the mandala and "proceeding" toward its centre, is by analogy guided through the cosmic processes of disintegration and reintegration. --from Encyclopaedia Britannica

There are no rules except it has to be 8x8.

I doesn’t strictly have to be a circle.
It can be a section or a slice.
It can be your interpretation.

Here are a few of my favorite links for inspiration:

mandalaZone - check out the lounge and the menagerie

mandala-style flower images by David J. Bookbinder in The Science Creative Quarterly

Serpent Mandalas by Lindy Longhurst
and here

... only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is: 'Formation, Transformation, Eternal Mind's eternal creation' (Faust, II). And that is the self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious, but which cannot tolerate self-deceptions.
--from Mandala Symbolism, C. G. Jung

In this group, what brings us together as artists is the time we were born in, a love of color and the lines in between.

And if you feel like playing along, post a link in the comments so we can all see YOUR thumbprint.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Greetings from Southern Oregon

Hello ladies!

So glad to be participating in this project with you all. I have been thinking the past couple of months that it would be good for me to participate in a collaborative project - step outside my and stretch a little. I love stretching! :) So, imagine my surprise when the invitation arrived! Actually, my reaction could more appropriately be described as "But of course. This is what I was needing wasn't it?"
So, here I am. Ready and willing to play and play hard! :)
talk to you all soon.



Each year around this time I seem to cook up some kind of community or collaborative project for the upcoming year.
Last year I started a group called one week at a time, where a group of local women made one piece of art every week for an entire year. We met once a month to share our work, & at the end of the year we had a group show at a local gallery. It was such a wonderful experience in so many ways & I wanted to do something similar this year only a little less intense & expand it to beyond Albuquerque.

I was talking w/ my friend Paula about this one day & she came up with the idea of inviting 8 artists to create one 8x8 piece of artwork every month for 8 months & having a show here on the 8th month. I loved the idea, but the group filled almost instantly & there were a few women that I really wanted to work with. So I decided to do a sister project, same thing, only w/ out of state artists & have a traveling show at the end of eight months.
I sent out an invitation & almost immediately everyone wrote back & committed to the project!

I am so thrilled & honored to be working with 2 groups of such amazing artists, I'll be working with both groups, our local group with Paula & this new group Project eight.
It's going to be an amazing adventure, I can just feel it!
This blog is a place where we can all post our work, so you'll get to see the work as it progresses. Paula is also going to set up a blog for her group... when it's all set up, I'll add it to my links here on my blog & hopefully everyone else will too.
I can't wait to get started & thank you to all of the amazing women who will be joining me on this great adventure!