October 30, 2013

The Eye of the Gold Lotus

For a few days, I have been watching in fits and starts a series of Bill Moyers interviews with the late Professor Joseph Campbell. The series of interviews were made in 1988, and as such, may no longer be thought pertinent. That was the year I started graduate school. The Personal Computer revolution had not yet taken us by storm and people interfaced without the internet. I was not walking around with a cell phone in my pocket. Amazing to think how unplugged we all were! So interviews with a professor speaking about how myth applies to the modern age at first did not seem like they would be relevant. Yet despite the context and the time, Joseph Campbell’s lectures were still moving and relevant. I suppose this is because regardless of the medium through which one presses on through life, the struggles for identity and the quest for meaning remain eternal.

Some of the myths that were expounded upon in the Bill Moyers interviews ( looking about boyish) were incredibly beautiful and often illustrated with a gifted painterly hand. One of my favorites was the myth of the lotus emerging from the omphalos of Vishnu upon which Brahma the creator is born. I was fascinated by the concept of time in this myth - a day in the life of Brahma being the equivalent of four billion earth years. A new universe is created in the blink of a Brahma eye.

The mosaic I just completed is a condensed version of the aforementioned creation myth. I made the central eye from fused glass. The central surrounding glass is the recycled piece of beautifully incised stained glass which had relief carvings of floral motifs. I adhered metal leaf on to the back of the stained glass to give it the look of gold. (Sometimes I used real gold leaf on the back of glass but I believe this one is brass - I neglected to label it). The surrounding areas in this mosaic are made in pique assiette style with fragments of ceramic shards and blue/green glass smalti to symbolize water. The ceramic shards come from three sources: a collectible antique plate with a rose design, a hand painted arts and crafts plate, and a piece of Chinese hand painted porcelain that broke into fragments a long time ago. The last piece I had a sentimental attachment to but finally came to the realization that it was useless to just have a bag of shards lying around fallow. As I write this I realize that these four materials - the three ceramic plates and the smalti can also be considered consistent with the Brahma myth - there were the creations of the four Vedas by Brahma. So if it is not pushing the metaphor too much I guess it all fits.

1 comment:

harriett said...

Excellent as always! You make me wish I could have sat in his class!