Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Arbol de Vida


An antique Arbol de Vida...

Well used, and covered in wax...


Many religions of the world make reference to a Tree of Life. In central Mexico, Trees of Life made of clay are a traditional art form. After the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Catholic church made it a practice to destroy all previous idols and gods. The church began to introduce Christian iconography. So, the trees were created to teach biblical stories to natives during the colonial period. And, they had the added benefit of bringing light into the church, as Mexican Trees of Life almost always function as candelabras. 

Many Trees of Life feature Adam and Eve. Usually, there is also a serpent and the leaves and flowers of the Garden of Eden. Recently, many Trees of Life have become more secular in nature, simply showcasing birds, leaves, and flowers. I've been experimenting with making Trees of Life, since creating a large stoneware wreath back in an early ceramics class. 

Fantastic leaf detailing...

Gravity defying piece...

Another antique...

A modern Arbol de Vida...

Graceful shape...


Terra cotta colored clay...

Below are some wall pieces that I've made for Open Studios. They have many of the features of non-traditional Trees of Life. The first one is going to be bisque fired tomorrow. Surprisingly, they have taken forever to dry. I think that glazing them will be an exciting challenge. I'd like to give them some color, but also antique the finish a bit to give them age and texture.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Nostalgia


They say you can't go home again. And, that seems true in some respects. But, returning to a place that is dear in memory, often serves to simply sharpen those reflections. As a child, I spent many summers at my grandparents' farm located in a small town in central Utah. My grandma's iris filled flower garden was crowned with a mint green trellis. And, my grandpa's garden had fruit trees, and a large, shady grape arbor. Almost on the same block, our relatives owned a much frequented candy store. And, across the street was the city park with a public pool, teeter totters, swings, and a very tall slide. A few years ago, I was stunned to see that my grandma's house had been torn down, paved over, and made into a parking lot. I realized that by spending so much time absorbing the house, as a child, I had an excellent memory of the details. So, although the home is no longer there, I can close my eyes and revisit every room of the house in my memory. Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, I will do just that, lingering and savoring the happy times spent there.

Last week, we returned to the town in order to attend the annual Ute Stampede Rodeo. Many things in the town have changed since my childhood, and since my last visit twelve years ago. But, the spirit of the place is still the same. And, the smell. We put coins on the railroad tracks near the fairgrounds, and I found a railroad spike! In the middle of the rodeo, we got completely soaked by a summer downpour. Spending time at the carnival reminded me of a childhood visit. My cousin and I paid our tickets to ride in an enclosed metal, spinning basket attached to a ferris wheel. His pockets were full of change, and the coins fell out of his pockets when we were upside down, then pelted us as the ride circled around. It was utter chaos in the basket, and we were laughing so hard, we couldn't breathe. Back in the old days, they would give chicks and goldfish as arcade prizes. My poor grandma always had a backyard full of chicks from all of her grandkids each year. She would be sitting in the dark on the porch, waiting for us, when we returned from the rodeo each year. Last week, in my mind's eye, I pictured her wearing her apron, laughing and smiling as we piled, soaking wet, into the car.