Both the butterfly and the circle carry much positive symbolism. And for me, these symbols are especially meaningful. The little caterpillar moves carefully along branches and twigs, filling itself with green leaves and perhaps flowers, and being careful not to fall or get caught in a spider’s web. Generally speaking, the caterpillar has no real defense system, and it is vulnerable to everything around it from the moment it develops from an egg.
But then it begins to build a cocoon, surrounding itself and closing out all that it has known in its brief life. And in this time, it spends in a form of meditation and growth. After a set amount of time, it begins to beat its newly formed wings (a symbol of its transformation) until it is able to slowly release itself from the cocoon. It is no longer in any sense a caterpillar. This newly transformed creature now seeks the nectar of the most beautiful flowers. Its new-found freedom enables it to travel to new locations, even those far away from where it started its life. It has no fear of going where it has never been before. Often a group of butterflies will begin to circle higher and higher into the sky.
Ancient people throughout the world recognized the circle as a symbol of infinity, and of being whole and complete. Spiritual and Religious cultures recognize the circle as a symbol of the female and the feminine energy , and especially of Mother Earth. It represents a fertile and sacred space. In the U.K. and other countries, there are many circles of stones.
The circle also represents a cycle that can be the cycle of life, death and rebirth. It can represent being complete and whole as well. For the Celtics, the circle was a sign of protection, and may be the reason that many early fortresses, temples, crosses and other sacred things were in a circular shape or contained circular motifs. The circle is found in many other cultures and countries throughout the world as well.
As I have noted, my art often contains images or symbols that are sacred to me. The cycle of life, and of completion belongs with the butterfly and its life cycle and my own life.
I wish that all children had an opportunity to learn some form of music. It is so good for the soul and I honestly believe it helps them to be able to learn other things as well more easily. If every child in every culture, every nation, had music from such an early age, do you think we might have a more peaceful world?
When I saw the photo of this beautiful and diminutive lady in the newspaper, I was inspired to create her likeness in a quilt which is still not finished. There is something about finishing it that reminds me of her life, for her goal is unfinished, and her country of Myanmar is still unfinished in the sense of gaining freedom for her people, so in a way it seems appropriate to be unfinished. I will finish it I am certain, but I have to make some adjustments to it in the direction she is facing and the overall size, etc. of the quilt. Giving it texture will enhance the quilt greatly just as giving texture to life enhances it as well.
I love people who make a commitment in life that they will pursue despite whatever challenges or dangers they face in the process. Called “The Father of Democracy” by the people of the country, her father was assassinated when Aung San Suu Kyi was just two years old. Despite such heart-breaking challenges, she steadfastly stuck by her beliefs even though she was under house arrest for years and has faced unbelievable circumstances. Her husband and two sons had to move outside the country. When her husband was stricken with cancer, she was told that she could go to be with him in his time of need, but that if she did, she could never come back. What a heart-rending decision had to be made and what incredible sacrifices the whole family made.
Yes, she is one of my heroes. No matter how much I might believe in something, I am not sure I could ever have given so much to such an immense cause.
It is good to have heroes in this life as I have noted before. We all need to know that when we are called to do something difficult, there are others who have made a path for us to follow. Perhaps those in her country who are against her are just waiting out the time when she too will pass on. Although she won the Nobel prize during the time she lived under house arrest not much has changed in Myanmar to this day.
If the time comes that I have to stand up and fight for a cause in my lifetime that I too will have the courage to stay strong and be brave until my last moments on this earth. I long for the all of earth’s people to learn to work together for our mutual benefit, and to realize and respect that we are all sacred and here on this earth by some great design.
Thumbing through a newspaper one day, I was stuck by a photo of this truly incredible woman. So petite and delicate in appearance, who would ever imagine that she is the national hero of the people of Myanmar, Burma, and that this woman almost single-handedly has led the people in her area toward a major resistance against the military regime that has so consistently prevented the people from gaining freedom and that has consistently brutalized and murdered the citizens in that country for so many years.
Women are rising up in this world in so many ways to fight for rights, and many like Aung San Suu Kyi have dedicated their lives to help others in their countries to be able to live fully without fear. I would love to hear about your special women heroes in this life and what they have done. We need to make others aware that freedom is not free. Like the many male heroes who have given their lives to give this greatest of gifts to all of us, we need to find ways to ensure that they are never forgotten.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw – Dramatist (1856 – 1950)
I was thinking about how much fun I have had when I allow myself to play freely as this child is doing. The freedom to explore the world we don’t see everyday, sometimes when it is right in front of us, is a wonderful thing.
I remember when I was turning 65, how I decided to put on some African music I had and begin to dance to it naked in my own home. And then I got the idea to paint my breasts and make prints from them onto cloth. I had no idea what these simple parts of my own body look like from a different perspective and it just seemed a fun way to play. There is nothing strange or silly (well, silly I can live with) about it. It was playing, and discovering, and it was immensely a fun way to celebrate. In the end, the two prints I made – one white and one multi-color, ended up becoming quilts that looked nothing at all like breasts.
I once saw the installations of art by a famous artist who did basically the same thing with parts of his body he said he never saw before. It was amazing, for he had manipulated the images that he got, and nothing was even recognizable as whatever it was originally, but it was immense fun to think about someone to be unafraid to play and to discover whatever there was to find.
It isn’t just the human body with which people are afraid to play and discover. It is things we all take for granted. The cracks in sidewalks, the marks on trees, the forms of all sorts of things out in nature, and perhaps a million other things that we really don’t know at all except from a distance. It isn’t just about playing with toys or playing games that we played as children. It’s about getting to know the world we live in, up close and personal. Have you played lately?
Just what IS accidental art? Doesn’t everyone who paints or does mixed media or art quilts or other art forms have to plan everything out ahead? How can it be art if it is not “designed?”
Have you ever watched a child creating art? Children don’t plan their art. They just start making lines and marks and coloring all over the page and generally using their full imagination. There is a freedom and spontaneity that you cannot help but enjoy, even if you are a professional artist or person who doesn’t care for art. It reminds you of some part of yourself that many people lose as we grow older and have to deal with the everyday issues of life.
This is my favorite form of art. All of these pieces were created in a matter of minutes, often pulling scraps from my friend Jamie Fingal’s fabric scrap can or my own, and using a glue stick or pins initially to put down whatever pieces I found. Honestly, none of these are planned. They just came to be born as I allowed myself to go into my childlife, just playing and having fun. They are all in various stages as I was making them. The flowers with the frog were from my boob prints, and so much fun to play with. I don’t think any of these took me longer than 15 – 20 minutes to create in whatever forms they are here. There is no attempt to “match” anything, to be precise, and even the stitching that comes later on to finish them is just wherever my hand feels like guiding the machine. I don’t need to put colors in the “right places,” or worry about whether it looks like it is “supposed to look.” The striped “cat” below was just a scrap of fabric I found in exactly the shape it was. We used to give little blocks like this to friends who perhaps hurt themselves in a fall, or maybe had surgery. They just become something as we go along, but there is no thought given to trying to create any particular thing.