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.


lklight said...

What a great theme, very scary for me & a good challenge to start this off!

Thanks also for introducing yourself, that was nice to read.
You look so sweet & innocent though!
As for myself, I WANT everyone to still think of me as sweet & innocent, so I won't mention anything about THOSE years!
Besides, I may run for president someday.

Stephanie Lee said...

What an awesome TRIP the mandala theme will be...the thumb-print, universal mathematics, patterns in energy. Very cool. This is going to be very stretching for me in many ways and I just love a good stretch!! :)

...and that particular cedar cone (one of my favorite of the cedars - deodar) is an exquisite reminder that nature is FULL of mandalas!

Okay...I'm off to play with this...


HappyDayArt! said...

Yay! We have started!

Leighanna sheesh, this is the short version, O.K.? I'm not THAT innocent! Thank you very much!


Judy Wise said...

I'm excited. I love 'assignments'. Now I'm seeing circles everywhere. Christmas cookies, round ornaments, you get the idea. Got my thinkin' cap on. Good challenge, Catherine.

Laurie Mika said...

Ok, I seriously had to chuckle when I heard what Catherine's theme was...because it will be a HUGE stretch for me...I RARELY use circles in my work, I even tell my students to avoid them when doing mosaics!I am a total square, linear freak! So, yep, this will be interesting right off the bat! But hey, I'm up for a good challenge and this it will be for me! I will be dreaming of mandala's tonight.....

HappyDayArt! said...

*evil maniacal laugh*