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Eco Portrait Masks

A Series of 3D Printed and Cast Sculptures

While working in sustainability, I became deeply involved in the creative economy and creative placemaking initiatives in the State of Maine. This work brought me to the IMRC Center at the University of Maine where I was able to be trained in a variety of emerging technologies, including 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC. From a sustainability perspective, I’m interested in 3D printings potential for ‘printing’ houses out of locally produced clays and cements and for its potential to eventually recycle plastics to eliminate plastic waste.

Now, I work with a variety of 3D printers. I’ve been experimenting with the printers and making a new body of work. Coming out of my Social Practice work, Discovering the Ecological Self, these sculptures explore how we make meaning out of our connection to the natural environment, and in particular how we make meaning out of major nature-based symbols and archetypes, such as the bee, stars, the moon, mountains, rivers, ocean, etc. I feel there is a lot of potential in work that connects the Universal with the Personal.

Further, this new work explores mystical or religious experiences or magical beliefs around nature. While at the sustainability institute, I worked with many herbalists. I was intrigued by an idea that they shared that ‘your healing grows outside your door’. This magical concept that healing plants grew next to the person that would need them spoke to an ecological intimacy that I want to share through my artwork. For this reason, I’m interested in the power of icons and mask iconography and how this iconography relates to Carl Jung and Mircea Eliade’s ideas around ‘living a symbol’. As in Symbolism, the Sacred and the Arts, “…the symbol makes a concrete object “explode” by disclosing dimensions which are not given in immediate experience… consequently, “to live” a symbol and decipher the messages correctly is equivalent to gaining access to the universal.” and “To live the symbol is to participate in the Sacred.” Eliade, Mircea. Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts. Continuum, 1992. pg. 12.

For example, the Eco Portrait Yarrow’s 2nd Sight, is based on the British folkloric belief that pressing yarrow leaf against the eyes gives second sight. This relief sculpture is a mask that can be worn – to literally ‘wear’ the symbol. The work relates back to looking at how we make meaning from nature as a way to bring us back into a relationship with nature.

Work samples that are included in this portfolio can also be viewed and purchased through https://www.artworkarchive.com/profile/kimberly-callas/collections

This new work has brought me to thinking about how place ‘marks’ us, specifically how we hold these markings in the body memory: the smell of home, the topography of the sightline, the way a foot holds the ground. Inspired by other environmental artists, such as Michele Stuart, I’ve been doing rubbings in graphite and crayon to collect patterns literally from place: bark, cracks in mud, tree leaves. You view a collection of these from a recent artist residency in Spain at https://www.artworkarchive.com/profile/kimberly-callas/collection/joya

These drawings and rubbings are visual artifacts of my process. I’ll next combine them with a figurative sculpture through digital sculpting and 3D printing. I’m interested in the idea of ‘Embodied Place’ and I want to create life-size figures that become a palimpsest of being ‘marked by place’. The work samples Nature Me, and Nurture Me, are some early attempts at this ‘marking’. Can the body and body memories of place (of home) –the patterns, images, and symbols from specific places that become an intricate part of us – be a valuable metaphor for deepening our relationship with nature and ourselves?

While I’m looking for these patterns in nature, I start to consider human patterns as well, the marks we make on the land, and our daily habits. How can we improve these ‘marks’ and daily habits (our patterns) to help ecosystems, create better water systems, restore soil, use energy when it is abundant and not when it is scarce? I’m still wondering how we can remember that we too are nature. How can understand that we are not separate from the earth, but part of it? And that this vital relationship, should be of primary concern, not a thoughtless consequence of living.

Thank you to those that have supported this work, including Monmouth University through a Faculty Summer Fellowship and the Urban Coast Institute.

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