In response to 9/11 and the Iraq war and concerned with the effects of our nation’s dependency on foreign oil, my husband and I bought a clear cut piece of land in Brooks, Maine, and hand built an in-ground, stone house that is off-the-grid and heated solely with wood. It is where we now reside.
After we built the house, I returned to my studio in search of my own ecological self. I was convinced that there must be a place within us that remembers it is nature and accessing this self might help us heal our divide with nature, a divide that is having devastating consequences.
As part of this process, I would spend the morning mediating on nature based symbols while I painted circles. The circles became my obsession and I wouldn’t be able to sculpt until I had made at least one a day. I would look at real things that I painted from: calendula flowers, sunflowers, stars, berries, galaxies, cells, suns, moons, eclipses, eyes, crater lakes, more flowers, the white hole in time, baskets, yellowed eyed peas…. and on and on. I created the circles with gouache and some are retouched with ink.
During my circle obsession, I researched other circle artists and cultures that use the circle in their religious practices. I found this quote from a book on Carl Jung about mandalas (sacred circles): “A Tibetan Abbot once told Jung that the most impressive
mandalas in Tibet are built up by imagination…when the psychological balance of the group is disturbed or when a particular thought cannot be rendered because it is not yet contained in the sacred doctrine and must therefore be searched for. In these remarks, two equally important basic aspects of the mandala symbolism emerge: 1. The Manda la serves a conservative purpose – namely, to restore a previously existing order. And 2. It also serves the creative purpose of giving expression and form to something that does not yet exist, something new and unique.”
I found myself in both situations as I would work: trying to return to a place of peace and balance while also trying to give expression and form to a new self that knows itself as nature.