The Existence of the Modern Goddess
All mythology and art is to be understood symbolically. It is one thing for the artist simply to imitate the face of the sitter, its surface and external form, confronting him in repose and quite another to be able to portray the true features which express the inmost soul of the subject. For it is throughout necessary for the Ideal that the outer form should explicitly correspond with the soul.
From Hegel's Aesthetics V1 p155-56
From Hegel's Aesthetics vol1 p 312 The symbolic form of Art.
Our knowledge acquired from experience affects us throughout our lifetime and constructs the walls of our present self. As I am female, it is natural that my interest and focus originates from my self, my life and experiences as a woman. In my art I am interested in exploring how the feminine body resides within our Western culture: the feminine body, its fragments, its connective extensions, its identity as symbolic metaphor in relation to Nature, and our existence and survival through the Other. I like to think of my connection to the Other, as a tree, the root source that trunk out, form branches, limbs and leaves that give life to the entire system. Simply, a unique feminine being who becomes self, is adorned, has interaction with the Other, and passes through life's experiences to become the ultimate Woman.
Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly. ~ Epictetus
Abstract: The Existence of the Modern Goddess
The woman, the flower, birth, growth, aging, and death – they signify the cycle of life. Like the phases of the moon, this ever-changing part of myself, that constantly interacts with everyone and everything around me giving me sequentially the inspiration in communicating visually, through sculpture, a physical identity of the woman. This project is based upon the Earth Mother archetype where I find metaphor from Mother Nature. This metaphor speaks of an individual woman, through symbols. Which visually creates a sculptural monument boundless of time.
My human experience gives breadth to my art that began during my childhood growing up in an arboretum; seeing, deciphering, exploring the processes of life and exchange. Still, this information I acquire from the other forms for me a (visual) vision of an idea, a metamorphosis from reality (that becomes a) to sculpture, a visual metaphor. An expression of my interaction with the other and the symbol (metaphor) I find in nature becomes my subject’s myth and gives birth to the goddess. A sculpture of the woman, a sculptural jewel formed from nature, a visual communication and a connective extension to the feminine body. Visual discoveries in which the feminine body is an object of adorn ration (adorn = to add beauty or glory to someTHING or someBODY. / ration = Fixed amount allocated to someBODY) and dialog.
This project originates from my connection and dialogue with nature. I have always been fascinated with nature, how the seasons dictate the change in plants and flowers and our own human modes of survival. As I grew, this awareness matured and finely tuned me to all the little objects we take for granted most of the time. I came to the conclusion that the female and the male are what make nature persist. That persistence is what pushes us forward into the growth cycle. As the seasons change our cycles change.
The female, the woman, the feminine of the existence bearing part of Life are where I wanted to begin my thesis. The feminine figure was always a dominant figure within my eyes. I developed around women who demonstrated their strength, intelligence and love, which captured my admiration for the female figure. This made a great impression on my being. With this being said, my conception of this Project derives from what I was gifted by the past by those whom demonstrated their magnitude as well as to those who still do.
The past of my own anthology then leads me into my research, also known as history. Reverting to ancient mythology is where I found the poetry to develop my concept from over forty years of discovery, research and feeling.
Working with women has influenced me and induced in me a "connective extension". These women have contributed to my being through a reciprocal exchange. My desire is to build a visual connection between modern Woman and my personal interpretation of her. Using metaphor and visual narratives, I offer a consideration and explanation of her ontology, through my sculpture, photographs, memory, drawings and paintings I create sculptural figurative representations of my subjects. I also consider the fauna of visual mythology that speak of her and through these I will find the identifiable companion to adorn the modern Goddess. This adornment becomes a sculptural representation of her being, metaphorically, from within the Natural world.
Elements Of The Metaphorical Code
We human beings are the embodiment of social beings and our most acute sense is that of sight. We are able to understand many nuances by sight that speech does not allow. Visual symbols provide the answer visually, silently, and continuously. Nature is full of symbols. Many trees, plants and flowers symbolize spiritual concepts embraced by world religions, and cultural spiritual traditions.
Here are just a few that then became the metaphor for my sculptures:
• Azalea: Symbolic of beauty, charm, humility, elegance, womanhood and strength of mind. (Chinese) ·
• Eucalyptus: Protecton and transformation.
• Cedar: Symbolizes grandeur, might, majesty, dignity, worldly strength, power, glory, wisdom, hope, music and intelligence.
Cedars are mentioned 70 times in the Bible and are called "trees of the Lord." (Jewish)
• Cypress: Symbol of death, immortality of the soul, music, feeling and sacrifice. (Christian)
• Gerbera Daisy: Symbol of the Christ child's innocence and of purity and humility. (Christian) Thoughts of absent friends.
• Fig: Among the seven species symbolizing the bounty of Israel (Deut. 8:8). Peace and Plenty. (Jewish)
• Ivy: Symbol of dependence, loyalty, friendship and immortality because it is always green and is a clinging vine. (Christian)
• Linden: In both Europe and America there has been much mysticism associated with it. It is a tree whose spirit can teach healing and the ability to see the beauty beyond outer surfaces. She is the spirit of the mystic, the poet, the dreamer, and the child--all of whom have the ability to see beyond appearances. This is reflected in its heart-shaped leaves and in the fact that the underside of the leaves is shiny and not the upper surface as in most trees. Related to the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite and fidelity in marriage.
• Peony: Symbol of love and affection, feminine beauty and goodness. (Christian) The flower of Buddha, symbolizing manliness, wealth, love, spring, marriage and fruitfulness.
(Chinese) In Japan, it has become symbolic of marriage, fertility, spring, glory and
• Sage (Mary's Shrub): Symbolic of healing and loyalty, it often is placed on graves because its leaves wither slowly. (Christian) Strength, wisdom, long life esteem immortality.
Source: "Botanical Symbols in World Religions" by Irene Jacob
History And Myth
So what is myth? The word myth derives from the Greek mythos, meaning (story and word). So why my interest in mythology? Myth puts the pieces of our existence as legends, folklore, myth and tradition. It tells a story of the living and the lived and relates us to universal visual language through the means of symbolic metaphorical relationships. Like a puzzle, there are many different sizes and forms that need to find their place. Using sculpture as my muse, as well as nature and women, I find a metaphorical representation of the subject that transforms her being into a symbol, such as a goddess of a flower, leaf, or tree. Visual myths in a visual format where symbols become highlighted create a universal connection to the woman and nature. Gaston Bachelard posed a question: ‘How could a myth be kept alive and perpetuated if each generation had not had “ intimate reasons” for believing in it?’ It is the metaphor that explains these “intimate reasons”, because the human spirit is linked to the transcendental.
As Rudolph Steiner believed, ‘The myth is the collective dream of the people.’ Primitive thought began the origins of Art, as the constellations, and the forms interpreted visually of animals, human beings, and plants. These myths then enshrined the moral principles, the natural laws, and the great contrasts of the transformations, which determine the course of cosmic and human life. This parallel from the history of the myth and the myth I have adapted as concept within my work demonstrates the need human beings have had from a historical analysis up to our present time. It is the necessity in connecting the visible world to the invisible world and our need to find meaning within our transcendental experience.
Symbols, Metaphors and Process
Symbolism is the art of thinking in images, as opposed to metaphor, that is finding a likeness in two diverse objects. I use most always ontological metaphor because it can transpose personification and create openness within concepts. I will begin by explaining my use of the triptych and the creation of my works using the number three. Three is a number that creates new life. It is a number that has religious and philosophical connotations as well as aesthetic. I find harmony within that number and it has become somewhat of a formula. As I stated earlier I chose the woman as my subject in the Goddess Project. The subjects in the triptych are closely related. I would like to state that it is my intention to celebrate the woman as a metaphor. I chose a female subject as an individual, while celebrating this female individual through a metaphor taken from nature that alludes to her feminine personification. My concept is about the transformation life gifts us and the change life’s processes behold. In reference to our human world and that of Mother Nature.
I think of my work as sculptural expression in the way as some photographic expression relying on visual symbols to represent abstract ideas. Symbolic sculpture can provoke numerous meanings in the viewer. I believe any symbolic sculpture that encourages thought, moves emotions, or stimulates the imagination creates an experience which can be powerful. In my opinion this experience is found in the dialogue between the viewer and the artist.
Innocence and Love
Reigns Her Being
Didi is Peace
Like the Fig Leaf
That gives plenty
Esther the Sage
Sage Blossoms Flower
Wisdom Green as Sage
The Linden Goddess
Is Love and Fidelity
That perfumes for life.
The Kedros Goddess
Seeds wisdom and foresight
That opens her flower.
Nurturing heart form
The Eucalyptus Goddess
Protects her world.
Strength of Mind
In all weathers
American Academy Rome/Singapore Biennale
I am now researching the goddesses of Ancient Rome, one of the most fascinating empires to have existed. A question I ponder, is what made women become goddesses? For example, some were real women as for example, Anna Perenna. Her two names both make reference to the year: anna means "to live through a year", while perenna means "last many years" (seen in the English language annual and perennial). Anna Perrenna engrossed with the cycles of renewal, and connecting the past to the present; what exactly I would like to portray visually through my sculptures. My project will be based upon making historiated portrait sculptures of contemporary women who fulfill a myth of ancient goddesses using Nature as the metaphor and that metaphor becoming a jewel. I plan on researching further the history of Singapore and more importantly, contemporary women living and giving to the society. My scope will be to then capture and create a monumental goddess boundless in time of those women who are enlightened and contribute to the oneness we all participate in, living. In the end, the spectator will visually connect to the greatness of that female figure that gives birth to a sculptural myth.
Humans live through their myths and only endure their realities.
Robert Anton Wilson
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”
St. Francis of Assisi
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The Linden Goddess
Is Love and Fidelity
That perfumes for life.
(Haiku from "Modern Goddess Project")
Modern Goddess Project
Our knowledge acquired from experience affects us throughout our lifetime and constructs the walls of our present self...