Category Archives: Art and Spirit

Seeking A Balance – Darkness and Light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” – Theodore Roethke

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Golden-Bee-Light- painting-by-Judith-Shaw

Golden Bee Light, oil on canvas, 16X 20″

I began my latest post on the Feminism and Religion Blog with these two quotes.

King’s quote expresses how out of balance we were and still are.  Roethke expresses the truth the our world, when at it’s best, maintains a balance of the light and the dark.

In this post I explore my journey through darkness brought on by the recent increase in and acceptance of bigotry and hate to an attitude which embraces the light that shines in the darkness even more fiercely than before.  You can read it here. 

 

Love of Humanity – Love Drives Out Hate – Post 26

simon-frederick-painting

“The Beauty and Love of Humanity” by Simon Fredrick, 2011

I found this painting online while searching for images about the love of humanity.  I think it’s pretty compelling.  Hope it lifts your spirits too.

The Lotus – Symbol of Purity – Love Drives Out Hate – Day 18

The lotus – Buddhist symbol – from the mud, the slime, yes even the swamp, this most beautiful of flowers rises tall above the mud., shining bright with purity and love.  And we too shall emerge from the swamp of hate swirling around us daily.

Lotus Mandala 2, painting by Judith Shaw

Lotus Mandala 2, oil on canvas, by Judith Shaw

Love Drives Out Hate.

Rose Windows for a Rose Garden?

Last fall the City of Albuquerque put out a call to artists to submit design proposals for a permanent public art installation in a new Rose Garden in the Albuquerque BioPark.  Loving roses, both for their beauty and their symbolic meaning, I decided to give it a try.  In addition, through my experience as lead artist for the International District Community Art Garden, I had learned that I do not have to know everything to bring a project to completion.  I had learned how to collaborate with others who have different areas of expertise from my own.

Rose Window ChartresThe call was for art which would reflect the importance of roses in the Southwest landscape.  Researching roses, I discovered that antique roses which precede the modern hybrid tea roses date back to the Roman days. These antique roses are hardy, tolerate cold, and flourish well in a dry environment.  Working off of the idea of the ancient, I gravitated to the use of the Gothic Rose Window as the form for the art.  These windows, found in Gothic Cathedrals across Europe, are called rose windows because the panes of stained glass radiate outward just like the petals of a rose.

In addition, the symbolism of the Gothic Rose Windows fits well with what one might hope to experience in a beautiful rose garden.  These rose windows are seen as mandalas, which are spiritual expressions of the desire for wholeness and harmony.   The rose window serves us on many levels – spiritual, mental, and emotional.

Rose Window design by Judith ShawThe call was for the art to be incorporated into a fence to be constructed on the west side of the garden.  The concept of a window type installation seemed appropriate for such a location.

My design called for three large Gothic type Rose Window shaped sculptural pieces.  The design would be realized with a combination of metal with appropriately colored patina, glass mosaic, and fused glass.  The North Rose Window in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Chartres, France (seen in the first photo here) was the inspiration for the central piece of my three proposed art pieces.  Of course the Rose Window built into the stone walls in the Chartres Cathedral is massive.  I used a segment of the Sacred Geometry of the Chartres Rose Window for the design, as my piece would be only 10 feet high.

Rose Window Tree design by Judith ShawThe two “Rose Windows” that go on each side of the center Rose, though placed in the same outward form of a Gothic window, depart from the geometry of the rose window designs. They display a stylized tree within each window form.  The tree,  a symbol of life throughout the world, unites heaven and earth, digging into the earth with its roots and reaching to the sky with its branches. Placed appropriately on either side of the “Rose Window” central piece, they create a frame for the Rose Window which lends a feeling of enduring strength and protection  to the more fleeting feelings of love, beauty and inner secretes associated with the rose.

Rose Garden art design by Judith Shaw

Finally, to bring New Mexico into the feeling of the design I planned the placement of these metal and mosaic pieces in a structure built to look like the skyline of the multi-storied residential complex you can find in places like Taos Pueblo.  This architectural element is repeated many places in New Mexico and has become an iconic symbol of New Mexico.

I worked very hard to meet the deadline, which was October 31, 2014, knowing full well that another artist team might win the commission.  The Rose Garden opened to the public last month but without any art. Unfortunately the City of Albuquerque decided in December, 2014 that they were not yet ready to move forward with art for the Rose Garden – sort of disappointing when you consider all the work that all the different artist teams put into their design proposals. Perhaps I can find another home for this concept?

Mary Magdalene – Priestess of Christ

I was invited to enter a piece to be judged for a show at Brigid’s Place in Houston, TX.  The invitation was to artists who would like to create a new vision of Mary Magdalene. The show, to take place this July, is entitled Re-IMAGE-Ing Mary Magdalene.

Though I did not know much about Mary Magdalene, I have been interested in her part in the life of Jesus and in the legends surrounding her.  So, I decided to take on the challenge and to write an essay about her for my monthly post on the Feminism and Religion blog site.  It begins like this:

Who was Mary Magdalene? The first thought of many today is that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute. But was she? Until the third century, Mary was considered an “apostle.”

Mary Magdalene, painting by Judith Shaw

Mary as an apostle posed a threat to the early Church patriarchs who denied women all authority in the Church. In addition, by early in the first century C.E., Mary Magdalene had become associated with Christian thought identified as heretical by the Church. The easiest way to eliminate Mary’s importance was to cast aspersions on her moral character.

Click here to read the rest of the essay which includes some of the legends surrounding Mary Magdalene.

The Power of Mandalas

Dawn Mandala, goauche painting by Judith Shaw

Dawn Mandala, gouache on paper, by Judith Shaw

Can geometry open our hearts and minds to spirit?   Throughout time people around the world have thought so. Mandalas and Sacred Geometry symbols are found in many cultures both ancient and modern.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word which means “sacred circle.”  In Buddhism, Hinduism and other ancient wisdom traditions of the East, the mandala has been used as a tool to facilitate contemplation and meditation.  Through the process of studying and/or creating a mandala one can reach one’s center, one’s connection to Source. The circle, the first closed shape of Sacred Geometry, thus becomes a doorway to Oneness.

Traditional Hindu mandalas follow a strict form.  Every mandala is created following the precise design of that form.  One sees a further development of other Sacred Geometries within these traditional forms.  First there is the squaring of the circle also known as “The Marriage of Heaven and Earth”, with the circle representing Heaven and the square representing Earth.

Shri Yantra painting  In the Hindu tradition, each design within this “Marriage of Heaven and Earth” is called a yantra mandala and functions as a symbol which reveals cosmic truths. Thus yantra mandalas become sacred geometric symbols of a particular Hindu deity.

One of the most famous yantra mandalas is the Shri Yantra, a symbol of Tripurasundari, a supreme Hindu Tantric Goddess.  It depicts a series of precisely interlocking triangles, half pointing downward and half pointing upward.  It forms a state of perfect balance and harmony and represents the union of the female and male principles.  Also known as the Yantra of Creation or the Cosmic Yantra it is the most honored of all the Hindu yantras. The Shri Yantra becomes a door which can lead to the experience of Oneness.

lakshmi-yantra paintingAnother goddess whose divine truths are revealed through the mandala is Lakshmi, Hindu Goddess of fortune, light, luck, and beauty.  Meditating on the Lakshmi Yantra encourages spiritual progress and helps to overcome internal blocks.

Christianity has also used the mandala to represent Divine Oneness and to teach the wisdom of the tradition.  The magnificent rose windows of the Gothic cathedrals are luminous examples of western mandalas.   Complex sacred geometries were used in the architectural designs of the buildings themselves and of the rose windows.

rose window chartresThe rose windows are a western representation of our human aspiration towards wholeness and balance.  The rose windows operate on various levels; spiritual, emotional and intellectual. The instructional aspect of the rose windows is clearly seen by the subject matter – biblical stories, lives of the saints, astrological calendars, and virtues and vices to name a few.

In much the same way that the Hindu yantras symbolize the aspects of a particular deity, the rose windows typically show Christ or the Virgin or some other combination in the central rosette of the window.   The gates at the cardinal points of the yantras depict the many paths available to reach the divine.  In a similar fashion, the saints shown in the petals of a rose window can be seen as paths to Christ.

More than likely, mandalas were reintroduced into western thought through the pioneering work on the unconscious by Carl Jung.  Jung wrote: “I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing,…which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time….Only gradually did I discover what the mandala really is:…the Self, the wholeness of the personality, which if all goes well is harmonious.”

Lotus Mandala 1, painting by Judith ShawContinuing in this tradition, artists and spiritual practitioners today have been exploring a more free-form style of the mandala.  Within the basic foundation of the “squaring of the circle”, the artist then creates a personal, spontaneous design based on the concepts of balance, wholeness and oneness.

A quick google search reveals a multitude of mandala workshops being offered all around the world. Exploration of the mandala through these workshops offers a connection to your true self, an experience of sacred love, an opportunity to improve your life with intention, a deepening of your connection to nature, healing of emotional, mental, or physical pain, and a chance to be truly in the moment.

Lotus Mandala 2, painting by Judith Shaw

Yellow Flower Mandala, painting by Judith ShawThe mandala is a form that I have used in my own art since before I discovered that it is one form in Sacred Geometry. Even when not directly exploring the mandala, I find that often I want to craw a circle around the main image in my painting – seeking that wholeness in the process of painting. In future posts I will explore other elements of Sacred Geometry, all of which grow out of the mandala, the sacred circle.

Charmed Circle of Goddess Love, painting by Judith ShawA Lotus Dream by Judith ShawSources:  http://charlesgilchrist.com/SGEO/AboutMan.html,
http://www.isibrno.cz/~gott/mandalas.htm,
http://www.whats-your-sign.com/yantra-mandala.html,
http://dragon_azure.tripod.com/UoA/Med-Arch-Rose-Window.html,
http://www.sacredsymbolhealingart.com/SacredSymbolhealingArt.com/Mandala_Facilitators.html

Spring Cleaning – Art Sale

Yellow Flower Mandala

Yellow Flower Mandala

I’m cleaning house and studio.  It’s time to move older work which I still own out into the world by offering a great price.

Yellow Flower Mandala shows The Seed of Life, sacred geometry’s symbol of the first emergence from the spirit world into the physical world. It’s an oil on canvas, 23″ x 28″.

Originally $1200  – Now yours for only $400 (plus shipping)- sale on for the month of March.

If interested just leave a comment to that effect and we’ll work it out from there.