November 25, 2013

Zen in Black and White with Shades of Gray

My most recent mosaic began with an interest in origami. I had watched a documentary film about this art form with its applications in mathematics and science. If slabs of clay were rolled out very thin and allowed to stiffen up to hold a shape yet not break, could they too, not be folded to look like origami? I wondered. I wasn’t certain how to do this but I started by scratching a design on a thin slab of clay that looked similar to the ones I had seen in the film. I was almost more fascinated by the geometric patterns on the flat piece of paper than the finished folded project. They were exquisite designs with diamonds, squares and rectangles in various configurations.

Needless to say, my clay, when folded either broke against the creases if it was too hardened, or undulated to look more like the folds of fabric than stiff paper if bent when too wet. But since I usually allow the medium to speak for itself in my work, I went with the flow of the folds and created something that looked like a rectangular piece of fabric.

Although there was no origami, I retained a Japanese aesthetic for the completion of the mosaic. The palette of colors for the mosaic was black and white with shades of grey throughout. The small tiles of seal script could be Japanese as well as Chinese so I incorporated them. They read “the breath of life,” “having a home,” and “enlightenment.” I encased the mysterious piece of cloth in a bamboo shrine. For this I happened to have a cast that I took of an old bamboo handle from a brush that was no longer usable. The crown for this shrine to the cloth was simply a large piece of flint which I obtained a few years ago from a course in making neolithic style arrow heads and knives.

This small mosaic was another milestone. It was the last mosaic for my upcoming exhibition of small works. For the duration of this month and well in to the next I’ll be returning to small acrylic paintings on paper, and my ongoing illustrations for the Small Book of Marvelous Cats.

No comments: