For decades, Valerie Hearder has been creating luminous landscapes that express both her outer and inner vistas. I am especially drawn to her “African Skirt series.” They have such compelling shapes, and the colors sing.
This September she is teaching a fabric collage course where participants will design and make hangings based on an architectural/shrine theme. This is an art form very close to my heart. When I see the word shrine, or altar, something leaps within. The significance of altar making has been elucidated by Kay Turner in a book titled Beautiful Necessity. She regards altars as places that “are the expression of the most intimate beliefs and fears, memories and dreams of women who are making new spiritual traditions from ancient ones.”
When describing necessities, “beautiful” would probably not be the first adjective that would leap to mind –“practical” might be more common. But expressing spiritual beliefs is a necessity for many of us, and shrines and altars are superb supports for the display of our individual beliefs, our personal “pearls of great price.”
Virginia Spiegel has made some fantastical Moon Shrines, that are a riot of color and detail.
John Tallerino of Shrine Designs constructs shrines using “found objects and things from nature as well as the traditional art media.” He finds a “fascination in using objects that have been discarded or made for another purpose” in his work and ‘giving them an entirely new life and meaning.” He reveals an inspiring philosophy:
My shrines are created as a personal spiritual portal, if you will, for that inter-connective communication we all possess. The shrine gives us a sense of place, that allows us the opportunity to become centered, calm and focused in our daily lives, if only for a moment. It is important to have a place. I call it a peace place, a place designated for calm and centering be it in home, office, garden, wherever one chooses.
Carol Owen, of Crafting Personal Shrines and Collage for the Soul fame, uses the “house” form for her shrines. Ah, what a rich symbol that is, invoked by so many of us, without ever diminishing its dynamism.
Kimberly Wheaton‘s “Spiritual Home” and “You Can Fly” make me wish I could study them more closely.
Tikva Derhy uses altar-making to “find her own peace.”
Lori Barker acknowledges art as her church, and constructs intriguing art from found objects which she “executes with her intuition.”
I could go on, and on, and on. The connection between art and spirituality is strong, and deep. There is a kind of power that is tapped into with the artistic process. That power appears to “take residence” within the art form and manifest itself to apperceptive viewers.