Posts Tagged ‘goddess’

The Yurt

Friday, June 7th, 2013

The Yurt began it’s life as a concept, and as a Tipi.TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

The concept was the circle.  The sacred circle, the circle of life, the ritual circle.  Rae’s Tipi was at the end of its useful life, but the goddess figures from its interior were mostly still OK.  The Tipi was a home and a sacred space.  Living and worshiping in the round fascinated Rae, and she was drawn to the yurt concept even when she was working on the Tipi. She collected pictures and articles,  looked for details of construction, etc.  Rae bought a book in 2003: Tipis & Yurts: Authentic designs for Circular Shelters.

She considered buying a Yurt, or a Yurt kit, but the expense was considerable, and we had most of the skills.  Rae wrote to a yurt company for info, and they sent her a sample of their construction of the khans, the latticework that comprises the frame of the yurt.  It was made of clear pine 1 X 2, riveted with large aluminum rivets.  Most of the do-it-yourself instructions had either traditional string/twine, or 1/4″ bolts (which leave a lot of ends, can work their way loose, and added up to a LOT of bolts.
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So we found a place that sold rivets wholesale, took our sample, found a match and bought 1000 plus an industrial rivet tool.  1 x 2 lumber is very seldom clear, but you can find 2X6 that is fairly knot-free, so we figured out the ideal width for the rivets (about 5/8″), and ripped a mess of them from 2X6 Douglas fir, set up a jig to drill the holes in exactly the same place in each piece, and riveted them together.  For ease of storage, we divided the khans into 2 parts, connected with bolts.  The calculations for where the holes went, were complicated, had to take into account the height we wanted (finished size with the roof had to fit into a standard room with 8′ ceiling), the circumference (she chose a 13′ circle, of course) minus the door, etc.

Black canvas was found for the walls, and sewed into 6′ by 37′ panels, one for the inside, one for the outside.  A waterproof top was found, and made into a form-fitting dome by cutting a wedge to the center, and having that heat-sealed by a local boat-cover maker (Marine Tops Unlimited, thanks Steve!).TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

We devised a method for rafter attachment at the center, non-traditional since no smoke hole was needed, added a track lighting setup, and attached a couple of hundred eye-hooks to the underside of the rafters, to hang  small plexiglass mirrors, cut into random shapes to represent broken stained glass, representing the “stained glass ceiling” limiting women’s roles in mainstream religion (picture below).  The door frame and door were designed and decorated, the 5 individual goddess figurines attached to the canvas, and it was ready to go!
yurt_open yurtgoddessmirror  glassceiling

 

The goddesses all had upraised arms, forming crescents around a circular mirror in place of a face.  each piece is special, and has a story.  Earth,  Spider, Fire, Water, and Buffalo.  They include stuffed-work, embroidery, bead-work, shells, and felting.

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The interior floor is also canvas, with a painted pentagram, and religious symbols from multiple traditions stenciled around the edges.
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This was Rae’s largest piece.  We are considering taking the 5 goddess figures and mounting them separately on frames, and offering them for sale.

Guadalupe

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Available! $1000

Central Core: Roots of Faith
wood, textiles, beads, silk flowers.

Rae did not quite finish this piece, and it was never in a show.  So the name is from a list she had for a recent show, one that did not fit anything else that was in that show, and I am assuming it referred to this piece, which was several years in the making.

The main structure is a section of a tree trunk, maple, with a large cavity, surrounded by the distinctive almond-shaped scar (hence the “Central Core”, look it up) where the tree continued to grow and try to heal over the opening.  The top of it, indeed the whole shape, is suggestive of a torso, and so Rae saw it, and planned the piece to take advantage of that.  The bottom was not large enough to balance and support the rest, so a separate tree stump was used, attached and carved to fit.  The joint is obvious but subtle.

Rae removed all the bark from the outside, but left the callus, the healed section around the opening, and removed a lot of soft, punchy wood from inside.  The outside was then smoothed and dyed with red and black, covered with clear varnish, and I leave it to you, as she did, to determine what it evokes in you.

Inspired by the wayside shrines of Europe, the kapliczki, and the art and craft around the Lady/Mother/Goddess represented by the Guadalupe shrines, she embroidered and beaded her own Lady to fit inside the piece.  She finished all but a few square inches of the sequin/bead fill at the top of the image, which was completed by friends visiting the house in the days after her death, so the piece could be fished for her “Birthday Party” May 16th 2009.

Mounted in the opening, surrounded by silk flowers, the piece was done and looks incredible!

Goddess of the Crossroads

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Wood, Embroidery

vailable!  $750

She of a Thousand Names, an Ironing Board Exhibition Honoring the Goddess, curated by Lynn Slattery  Helmuth.  1997

Rae was asked to participate as one of 13 artists for this show, the format determined by Lynn Hellmuth, with the theme being honoring the Goddess in her many forms, the medium sculpture, the common factor that of the ironing board.  In 12 of the pieces, and actual wooden ironing board was used.

Rae’s piece took an antique pine ironing board, made a base for it with two crossed boards and a circle of pine around them, a Celtic Cross.  The ironing board fit into a curved slot carved into the base (curved because the board had warped over the years, and was no longer flat).  The base also had 4 wooden Celtic spiral emblems in lighter color, repeated also on the bosom of the piece.  This was Rae’s first experience using a jig saw, which also produced the Celtic knotwork making up the “belt” visible  in the picture, and the individual pieces making up the bosom, beginning with a large oval, with two rounded triagles cut out, then a double spiral, carved where solid to make the breasts, and finally two more of the emblematic disks, also called triskels.

The goddess’ face is an oval of wood, almost featureless but for the hint of eyes.

Detail

The belly of the piece is one of Rae’s signature embroideries, a beautiful Celtic knotwork with the colors flowing from orange to gold.

On the back of the piece is her hand-written Artist’s Statement:
———————

Lady of Choice:
The Goddesses of The Crossroads

Each of us makes “choices” daily — from what to eat for breakfast, to far more important decisions.

The legends of many Goddesses say they spin out our lives, some even weave the patterns of the world — but the fates do not “choose” for us.  We have the power of self determination, we have “the ability to respond” — to our lives, our world, our ethical beliefs, our hearts.

The Journey through this life is not just about our bodies being born, growing, aging and ending.  It is also about our minds, hearts and souls…

The double spiral path, the three gates, the interlacing and nexus points of the paths of our lives (which are never lived in isolation) and the crossroads are symbols of the Goddesses who support and protect our right to choose…

For that ability — I see my hours of “making” as an offering to them, an acknowledge of this gift — to be a self-responding/self-determining creature…


One of the very few pieces Rae actually signed.

Others in the show besides Rae and Lynn were Janet Shapero, David Aguirre, Truman Lowe, Leslee Nelson, Claudia DeLong Pope, Nana Schowalter, Kitty Slattery, Nancy Cramer Lettenstrom, Paulette Werger, Helen Klebesadel, Kicki Hankell Persson.

Ancient Mother, Modern Lies

Sunday, December 6th, 2009
Closed at MFA show

Closed at MFA show

Available! $1000

From the Age of Confusion: Ancient Mother, Modern Lies
walnut, silk, bronze, clay, mirror

AMML_detail

(click images to enlarge)

This is one of the pieces from her MFA show, Women, Domesticity, and Objects of Power.  As most of the pieces, its title begins: From the Age of…
Rae really liked creating this piece, I know.  It combines many different media, tells its story without translation or comment, a different story to each viewer.  She got to work with silk, and photo transfer images; wax figurines that were spin-cast; stained glass; terra-cotta; and wood.  Each aspect could stand alone, together they make an exquisite piece.  AMML_opened
I remember the piece started with the images on the silk, behind the bronze figurines inside the cabinet.  She had seen a set of lovely silk pillows/sachets with goddess images on them, and discovered the images were photo-transfers, so she selected a dozen images of women: the Laussel goddess, Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, others I recognize but can’t name, since I did not take any Art History classes.  She chose the size she would eventually make the box for each, then experimented with the technique till she was satisfied.
The little bronze figurines were painstakingly molded in wax, she carried around a Tupperware container with dental tools and would work on them during lectures and between classes, at meetings, and while watching TV.  They depict shamelessly large, brazen (literally!) voluptuous sexy women in a variety of poses.  The spin-casting technique was fun, too, I helped her set them up.  Instead of a large foundry, the molds were in small steel cylinders.  these were placed on an armature, the molten bronze poured in, and the lid slammed down, which engaged a lever and fulcrum, spinning the mold at several G’s, forcing the molten liquid into the small spaces before it cooled.
The wooden cabinet is reminiscent of a wall clock in shape, I had to help her determine the miter angles, she used spline joints all around, the only metal in the hinges and to tack the back on.  The walnut is carefully matched for color and grain.  The colored glass carefully cut to fit into the doors, I remember holding my breath during that, we only had one piece of glass to use, the last of its color, a beautiful smoking golden.AMML_top_open
AMML_top_closedThe top was another achievement.  Looks a bit like a birdhouse, maybe ready for a cuckoo to pop out of.  The door and it’s frame appear to be made of one piece of wood, so well matched is the grain, but it was not.  The door itself was a piece of Walnut burl, and the frame was carved to receive it’s curves.  Inside Rae placed one of her ubiquitous mirrors, framing a terra-cotta goddess like the neolithic figurines found in Europe, very much like the one in the Spiritus piece from last week’s blog.
I think you know who the ancient mother is, and I’ll let you infer yourselves about the modern lies, as Rae would have.  Enjoy!

Spiritus Muliebris: volutum per aspicio paternus: Totem Series

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

(Divine Female: Evolution of the Patriarchal Gaze)patriarchal_web

basswood, ash, bronze, stone, broomcorn

Spiritus is one of Rae’s Totem series, which started with Celtic Totem, and also includes the Jumping Knot Broom.  Like Celtic Totem, it tells a story.  But not a folktale, rather the story of the historical record of how the female figure was represented in art, and in spirituality.
I remember Rae asking me what the Latin word for “gaze” was.  She tended to think I could answer any question immediately, and I had, after all, taken 2 semesters of Latin in High School…  So I looked up a variety of words for her, and she crafted the title of this piece from those words and definitions, taking no more liberties than is common in pseudo-latin for scientific names, and certainly few Latin grammar purists to complain.  The name is permanent now in any case, and fits the meaning intended.  The broom represents the evolution over time of the representation of the female form, specifically the sacred feminine form, the evolution of the gaze of the patriarchy.
The broom comes apart for storage and transport, like the Celtic Totem, with the stick part forming a tenon at its base, fitting into the base of the broom.  So I will start the description of the broom from the bottom, which is the beginning of the timeline represented, as well.
SPIRITUS_BASEThe very bottom is a block of Ash, with some beautiful grain in it, supporting a block of limestone, to protect both the stone and any floor it would have to sit on.  The Ash wood was sculpted to fit the irregularities of the stone underneath, and two holes were bored through the wood and the stone.  The stone itself then represents the Earth, the oldest (non)representation of the sacred female.
Above the stone is Rae’s representation of one of the oldest female figures found by archaeologists, on the Isle of Malta.  Several of thesefertility_Goddess_low statues, all without heads, dating to ~3500BCE were found.  Called by Marija Gimbutas the Giantess, she was obviously important to the people then, and her size, like those of the Willendorf and other figurines, implied that slimness was not a valued attribute in representation of the sacred female.  Rae added a head, I don’t remember what it was modeled from.  The broom makes up Her skirt and legs, with bolts connecting the base below, through the two broomcorn “legs” and into the body of the Goddess, who was carved into two large pieces of Basswood glued into one block.  A cavity in the body accepts the “neck” of the head of the goddess, who’s hare curls into a bun which becomes a snake, coiling up and around the rest of the sculpture.
spiritus_lionsspiritus_lions_backThe next figure is also very old, a curvaceous female with large breasts and buttocks, flanked by two lions, indicating her power and status.  Also very much not a modern pinup. The snake crosses her belly and continues up, she stands with her feet together on the head of the Malta goddess.  Some archaeologists have stated that since there is no head, and all the Maltese figures are “obese”, there is no way to state that it is indeed female.  But ther is definitely no doubt of the gender of this figure.
spiritus_top_frontStanding on her shoulders, with the snake curling around an ankle and between her legs, is a figure from Hindu temple walls, a Lakshmi, perhaps.  Hand on outthrust hip, large but not pendulous bosom, she appears confident and unashamed, but perhaps a little flirtatious, too…
Next is a highly decorated bust of an Egyptian goddess.  More aloof, regal.  More obviously decorative, her power from her rank and position, a beauty to be observed from a distance, with awe and respect.  Rae painted some of the neckpiece with opalescent colors, also used on the earrings of the Indian goddess.
Atop the whole is a bronze statuette, the Virgin Mary, which Rae began with a small statuette, added wax to create a halo with 3 small sand-dollars in it, and added a snake curling around the base of her robe (not under her foot), and 3 starfish on the rock at the base.
It was a lot of carving, a lot of sanding.  There was more wood removed than remaining in the end, and she faced lots of challenges with leaving enough for strength.

Rainbow Tipi

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

rainbow-tipiThe Rainbow Tipi was one of Rae’s first large pieces as a student artist, around 1981  We were living in a trailer park in Iowa City, I was working at the Amana Furniture & Clock Shop, Rae was taking classes at the U of Iowa.  She was exploring her Native heritage, getting a few stories out of her mother, grandmother, other family.

Her vision was for a portable shrine or temple as the Yurt would later be.  She researched the history and construction of Tipis,  checked methods for decorating canvas, and designed the interior.

We had a small craft business, our own and consignment, we called The Enchanted Glade, in the “Hall Mall” in downtown Iowa City.  The name changed to the Rainbow Tipi when we moved to Ames later, in honor of the tipi, which we took camping to several pagan gatherings, and lived in our last 8 months in Iowa City, with both the boys as young kids.

EZ Casey tipi blanktipi_layouttipi_downThe canvas for the cover was laid out in our tiny yard in the trailer park, the design penciled on, then gesso wherever the paint was to go, then pencil again, using string to draw the arcs of the rainbow after figuring out how to get exactly 5 rainbows in the hemisphere.  The edge was painted black for about 14 inches, and around the top, the smoke hole, were the phases of the moon on a black background.

The interior of the tipi had a tipi liner, common in modern tipis, to allow air to come in around the base, flow between the tipi and inner liner, and then out, creating a draft to take smoke out, and keep the tipi cool in warm weather.

tipi_firedoorfelted goddesstipi_watertipigoddessearth

The liner was designed with 5 goddess figures on it, connected by more rainbows.  The door was was through a flame-circled womb.  A buffalo-woman made of felt, a water-goddess of blue silk with beadwork , a painted tree-bark inspired Earth Goddess, a spider-woman, and I just can’t remember what the last one was…Air? (several of these were later resurrected for the Yurt).  Each one had her arms curbing upward, and a silver painted moon/mirror in place of a head.

We used the tipi as a home, for camping at several Pagan events, and when we moved to Madison, we put it up out at Barb  and Cal’s farm, then a CSA, west of Madison.  They used it for some rituals, and as temporary shelter for some of their workers, I believe.  Eventually, as all canvas does, it was lost to the elements.  We had taken out the liner to store, since it was more fragile and we didn’t want the elements ruining it.  Which is how some of the interior pieces ended up in the Yurt piece.rae with tipi

Ancient Wisdom Strikes

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Ancient Wisdom Strikes

Ancient Wisdom Strikes

Maple, Koa, silver, grass fibers

Ancient Wisdom Strikes was one of the most time-consuming of the Sweeping Changes brooms.  The stick was a solid piece of hard Maple, carved into two intertwining snakes, in a sort of Caduceus.  The snakes have little forked tongues made of silver, looking like lightning striking the outstretched arms of the priestess between them.

The priestess figure will be familiar to students of history, or religion, or religion.  Priestess or Goddess, with a snake in each hand, found in Knossos, Crete, by Arthur Evans around the beginning of the 20th century, dating to 4000 years ago or so.

Rae carved the figure from a piece of Koa, a dark, rich tropical wood that carved well and took a great satin finish.  The Goddess/Priestess has an owl sitting on her head, symbol of wisdom and spiritual power, and holds the two snakes with are touched by the silver tongues of the snakes, like lightning bolts striking and imparting energy to her through them.

Cretan Snake Priestess

Cretan Snake Priestess

Prestess/Goddess at top of broom.  Detail

Priestess/Goddess at top of broom. Detail

The skirt for this one is an antique-looking broadleaf grass, looking somewhat like corn sheaves, slightly thinner.

The symbology here is not subtle, the name of the piece tells the story.  Wisdom, sought after or not, can come with a blinding clarity and immense power.

Women, Domesticity and Objects of Power

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

So, a special treat today:  Context.

I have collected some info and images from Rae’s MFA show, titled above.  The show was November 6-23, 1994 at the Gallery of Design, 1300 Linden Drive.  At that time it was Family Resources and Consumer Sciences, now the School of Human Ecology.

Her Artist’s Statement:

Women, particularly cultural feminists, have often considered the possibility, questioned the probability, and even a romanticized the concept of a women’s culture. When I explore the concept of women’s culture, as a feminist, a storyteller, and an artist, I am drawn again and again to the concept of common objects. Common objects fascinate me — the careful consideration to function (its domestic roots) mars our perception of its grace and beauty, for, to be special something must be rare.

In a women’s culture, what might be different in the perception and the value of common objects?

I began to envision what common objects would be like from an intact, continuous women’s culture. If such a culture existd through the ages, what would those ages have been called? We have the “Golden Age” for mainstream culture, and the Renaissance, and the “Middle Ages”. Would it be different if there had been a dominant Women’s culture or even a valuation of women? I know they would be different for me. Using as my starting point stories such as the magic mirror of Snow White’s evil stepmother, or myths such as Cerridwen’s Cauldron of regeneration ( how did a cooking pot becomes a source of reincarnation and knowledge )?, I began to construct any exhibition of found objects from this “mythical” women’s culture.

I not only wanted to explore the concept of a women’s culture, I choose to layer it with the shadowed influences of existing culture – its legends, stories and processes and my own life experience and concerns. What resulted is my manifestation of Objects of Power.

This statement was posted in the show and on a brochure which was handed out.  What few people have seen is her first draft of the statement:

I am working from 3 premises:

•      There is a perceived division between art and craft, functional and non-functional, which does not exist in all cultures and in all times.  It does not exist in my reality.  I like to push this culturally oriented imaginary line around and see what I can come up with when I explore common objects, traditional and non-traditional materials and layered symbology.

•      Certain “Common Objects” fascinate me — they can be graceful and powerful, as well as functional.  We usually miss this grace and beauty, because we assume to be special something must be rare.  Many objects live with us in the mundane-but they also live with us in the world of dreams, mystery and legend.  My work seeks to delve these mysteries and reveal how common objects can become the icons of mysteries we all recognize if we care to look — if we dare to know.

•      Objects that are a common part of our culture often have rich associations with legends, histories, fables, folk-tales and folk customs.  I explore these associations by researching references to each object in mythic, poetic, and cultural literature.  I use interactive and multifaceted meshed layers that reflect this history and hidden meanings found in the research, with concepts from my own life experiences and response to the stories.

This process manifests pieces that are powerful, unique, and sophisticated.  These simultaneously simple and sophisticated pieces reflect the mundane perspectives of our society, but reveal a connection to the power of objects through their secrets, stories, mysteries, and innate grace.

Also from the brochure:

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND APPRECIATIONS

COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Truman Lowe – Art Department
Leslee Nelson- Art Dapartment
Elaine Shear – Art Department
Diane Sheehan – ETD Department
And Larry Junkins–
he touched my heart & my art, Blessings.

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Valerie Weihman – MATC
Tom Loeser – UW
Martha Glowicki – UW
Steve Feren – UW
Fred Fenster – UW
Brian Painter – UW
George Cramer – UW

SPECIAL FRIENDS
Those who helped make this show possible
Helen Klebasadel    Jini Kai
Amy Bethel    Mary Walker
Barb Westfall    Mary Bennett
Ari-Asha Castalia    Ann Schaffer
Leslee Nelson    Sara Killian
Suzann Hart    Val Weihamn
Casey Heinzel    Ethan Heinzel
Deb Trent    Bev Gordon
Betsy Tuttle and the folks of the Gallery.

And All My Love To,
MATH HEINZEL
Who suffered so gracefully for my art …

The pieces that were included in that show, some renamed:

BROOMS

From the Age of Mystery:  SWEEP OF THE MILKY WAY  Wildwood, Broom Corn
From the Age of Community: COOPERATION    Bronze, Bronze Wire
From Sweeping Changes: INSPIRATIONAL SIMPLICITY Quilted maple, Broom Corn

CAULDRONS

From the Age of Water: CONTINUITY    Bronze
From the Age of Fire: TRANSFORMATION Bronze
From the Age of Earth: REGENERATION Bronze

CHAIR

From the Age of Consideration: FAT GIRLS LIKE TO ROCK TOO Ash and Pecan

CUPBOARDS

From the Age of Confusion: ANCIENT MOTHER/MODERN LIES Walnut, fabric, mirror, bronze, clay, glass
From the Age of Consciousness: CAGED HEAT    maple, copper, cotton, silk, satin
From the Age of Control: WITH RESPECT TO THE WHORE OF BABYLON copper, lace, walnut, silk

MIRRORS

From the Age of Knowledge: CLASSICAL PROPORTIONS/NARROW PERSPECTIVES    Bronze, Wood, Mirror
From the Age of Acceptance: MIRROR OF DEATH/MIRROR OF LIFE     Bronze

——————–

I have not found any photos from that exhibition, though I will continue to look.  We do have photos of all the pieces, some in previous posts here, others yet to come.  For now, foryour gazing pleasure, the Ricking Chair that she made to fit a large woman, and which sits now in our living room.  Made of Ash and Hickory.  Fat Girls Like to Rock, Too:

Proportioned for the goddess in each of us.

Proportioned for the Goddess in each of us.

Hecate’s Sickle

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

In the collection of Helen Klebesadel

The second piece I’d like to present is this broom, also from her Sweeping Changes show. It is in the collection of Helen Klebesadel. (click on images for larger size)

Hecate's Sickle in Sweeping Changes Show

Hecate’s Sickle in Sweeping Changes Show

This broom is a tribute to the Greek Goddess Hecate, whom Rae honored as a goddess of both birth and death, beginnings and endings.  This piece concentrates on the endings part.  The top of the piece is the namesake, a sickle, a tool o9f reaping, or the harvest, symbolic of the ending of life, so that a new life can begin from the bounty of the old.

The stick is a single ironwood sapling, including one broad buttress root, the whole thing turned upside down, with the root making a right-angle.  An actual iron sickle blade is inserted into this, and the wood carved in the shape of a raven’s head, holding a silver fish.  Both Raven and Salmon are Celtic totem animals, and played a part in Rae’s personal pantheon.  Here it is before and after:

sickle_headhecate_top

The skirt is a combination of Red Osier Dogwood, Apple, willow, and dogwood twigs, some paineed black, with black string binding them to the stick, and a few black feathers mixed in.  The whole thing is almost 7 feet high, on a short pedestal, and 34″ in diameter.

hecate_detail

Rae installing Sweeping Changes, Hecate's Sickle in foreground

Rae installing Sweeping Changes, Hecate’s Sickle in foreground

And finally, from Rae’s “Besom rant”:

“The broom is used as a means to guide or confound souls, friends, enemies, and luck.  The Hecate Priestesses of the Ancient World cared for both birthing and dying, they supposedly had a ritual of following behind a funeral process from the home to the burial site (or fire) and sweeping the path clear so the soul would be unable to read its trail home and haunt the family.   However when they arrived for a birth, the duty of the young Priestesses in training was to sweep clear the door step and path so the new soul would arrive unhindered and with their own fate to follow.  Greek and Italian Grandmas or crones can still be found sweeping the streets at night in front of their homes in a ritualistic fashion in older communities.”