Saturday, August 11, 2018

Made with Love...

One of the things that I find infinitely fascinating is what things represent.  It seems like everything has a hidden story and a secret meaning.  One of my metaphysical friends once told me that all things contain a signature – a fingerprint of God and that those hallmarks of individuality all meant something.  They were a secret language.  Later, in art school, we tried to decipher the code.  When you're working primarily in a visual medium, why not learn what makes things more appealing or off-putting?  Why not learn how to hone the silent communication of an object or image?

One of the things that you discover when you try to break things down is that it's a little bit tricker than one might think.  Depending on the culture and the time period, symbols develop and change representation.  What might be a symbol of life and new beginning in one culture might be a sign of death and finality in another, like the color white.

Even though there can be differences, surprisingly, several images have universal understandings that cross borders and customs and stretch across the ages.  Sometimes those "signatures" are so redolent of their intended representation that it can be felt and intuited.

When I'm making representational work (even when I'm working more abstractly), I always like to think about what a particular symbol means to me.  What makes it unique to my cosmology?  How is it different from others?  And how is it the same?

Despite how crazy it made our mother, we used to draw on ourselves.  I remember once we made a game of drawing eyes on our hands and chasing each other around the house.  Later I discovered that this was not unique to us.  In fact, it has a long tradition and history.  Sometimes called a "hamsa" and sometimes "the Hand of Fatima", it is a symbol of protection and is used to ward away the "Evil Eye" or bad intentions.

To me, the hand is a symbol of possibility and potential.  As an artist, I use my hands to make things. The eye is a symbol of the spirit and seeing what is there and beyond that.  Combined, I think of how an artist works from head to heart to hand.  An idea is pulled from thoughts and feelings and distilled through the artist, moving down through the heart, concentrated there, and made manifest through the hands.  The act of creation is a powerful magic.  What's more magical than making something from what seems like nothing?

Along these lines, I think of hands as symbols of healing.  I'm often reminded of the saying of the "laying of the hands".  Healers use their touch as a conduct of prayer or energy or whatever you want to call it.  Who hasn't been given a small bit of comfort when you're upset and someone has hugged you or patted your arm?

But the hand motif has other meanings.  A raised hand is a call for recognition.  An extended palm is a signal to stop or yield.  A handprint is also evidence, a record of being there.

I think it's important to be mindful of the different interpretations, but not to let that hold you back.  Instead, focus on what's important to you and what it means to you.  As you're woking on something, set your mind towards your intention and your meaning, imbuing the object with that particular energy.

This piece was made from flame-polished copper and sawn out sterling silver.  I bezel-set a tiny larimar cabochon in the palm.  One could see the hand holding this "ball" of energy or as an eye.  Larimar is commonly thought to represent healing, peace, love, and enlightenment.  It's a stone born of fire and water, balanced between the elements.  Like painting, each element adds another layer, increasing the depth and width of meaning and symbolism.

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