Friday, January 25, 2013

Inspiration and Vodou art

The Lwa are severe task masters. Let me explain.

I have been meaning to create a series of 'something's for the Lwa for some time now. I have been collecting bottles, boxes, odd bits of this and that, with a vague idea of what to do with them. Although art may seem to flow from the artist, it is in reality a long process of gathering, meditating and then doing. As a new friend said to me this week, sometimes, you just gotta push through to the other side of creativity. So this week, I decided I would do just that - push through until the art engine came on line.

Well, I should have know there'd be a few stalls and hiccups along the way. Art really IS a process, one that can't always be jumped started - even by pots of coffee and sugary pastries. But then, the Lwa step in and the mystery, the magic happens.

I've had this very cool group of bottles for a year. I've washed, them, I've taken them out, I've stared at them. I've put them back. I think about them later, I take them out again. I stare at them. I put them back. You get the picture. This week though, I became obsessed by the bottles. I kept thinking about them, drawing them, staring at them.  When I dreamt of them, I took them out and left them out. I dug out all my stuff, I even went so far as to unearth my "toy" box -- a collection of cool things I've been adding to for over two decades now. It's got angel wings, Harry Houndini dolls, bits of clocks and old eyeglasses.

And I dove in head first.

So here are my bottles five days later. I am on a roll. I've dug out the next series of bottles (all square) and making them siblings. And I found my figure shaped bottles. They'll be the Maitresse series (of course). But I thought you'd like to see the bottles in process.

This is the square set - not sure who they are - they tend to speak to me as I work, and define themselves as we go along. I had thought they'd be Simbis, but they are not sure who they are as yet. I am still creating the underwork as I call it. The sub-textures and surfaces that will later be embellished. I study with an artist named Michael Demeng. He is an assemblage artist, working in rusty metal and the discard detritus of the world. His blog and web site can be found here. He has motivated me mightily with his painting techniques, otherworldly vision and macabre sense of humor. One day when I have extra money to burn, I'd love to take a class with him. But alas, its out of my price range at the moment. So I satiate myself with online offerings and stalking him on Facebook.

And what I do in the meantime, is listen to the Lwa, as they direct me to do their work. This piece began as a white Danbala offering. But the mighty creator serpent had other ideas. And so I allow Him to guide my hand as I dig and search and attach, remove and reattach things, until the vision is complete and Dan is satisfied. I am always amazed at what The Lwa love and want as their image in the world. It's really nothing like what we think it is.  The collective zeitgeist of their "offerings and colors" is really a decision reached by a multitude of people over many years.

Yet each spirit speaks to us individually about their own likes and dislikes. It is a collaborative effort between Them and us. We put forth our own ideas of what they look like, what they want and accept. Yet, when you take the time to speak to them as individuals, on an intimate level, their desires are far from the universally held "truths" that so many are slavishly devoted to.

I suspect that the Lwa are very particular about their appearances, their dress codes, their wants and desires. How frustrating for them, not to be able to impart to the greater public what it is that motivates them into action. And how fortunate for the few of us who do take the time to listen to Them, because we are given the ultimate gift. Individualized ashe, inspiration of a spiritual dimension, and  a broadening of our own internal spiritual konnesans.

Ayibobo Papa Danbala, I give thanks for this gift, this energy and this insight.

Now back to the painting table. The Lwa are calling me.

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