Category Archives: Art and Spirit

Are We Made of Star Dust?

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Scientists have come to the conclusion that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen which make up our bodies, along with all other heavy elements, were created in stars 4.5 billion years ago. The oldest stars consisted of only hydrogen and helium. When a star exhausts its supply of hydrogen it dies in a violent explosion, a nova. A massive star creates a Supernova when it dies, throwing a cloud of dust and gas into space and dispersing the heavy elements throughout interstellar space.

Starstuff-painting-by-judith-shaw

Read more of my thoughts on the connection between Earth and Sky, the importance of awe and wonder, and human beings long history of understanding these truths in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.  And of course the Tree of Life figures into it all.

Star-Tree-Goddess-painting-by-judith-shaw

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The Turning Seasons – Transformation

My thoughts turn to transformation as the fall season deepens, bringing shorter days and chilly nights. Both the idea and the process of transformation have fascinated me my whole life. Blame it on my Scorpio rising. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto, the planet of transformation and regeneration.

Though the word transformation has become trendy in the last few decades – used by corporations, the government and even the military to describe Gold-aspen-leaves-photo-by-judith-shawbureaucratic change – the original meaning of transformation is very different. Our ancestors viewed transformation as a process through which a human being gains a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimension in life. In cultures across the ancient world people could participate in ceremonies and rituals that helped facilitate a spiritual awakening – an awakening to the understanding that we are all spiritual beings having a physical experience. This journey brings one back into union with Source from which we all come and to which we all return. 

I find myself returning to the theme of transformation again and again with my paintings. Guardians of the Passage presents a view of a doorway with Spirit Guardians on either side.  A figure is poised at the entrance, ready to pass through, seeking a transformative spiritual experience.

Guardians of the Passage by Judith Shaw

Our day-to-day needs – the tasks, the emotions and the body – keep our minds busy and focused on the physical. Through spiritual transformation we can open to the truth of spirit. In my view, this truth of spirit does not negate or belittle the physical. As a practitioner of Earth-based spirituality I believe that the goal of spiritual transformation is the integration of the physical and the spiritual creating an understanding which honors both and allows a world based on love, balance, harmony and equality to emerge.

Transformation offers the opportunity to turn the lead of our fears and self-limitations into the gold of our intuitive inner calling. Nonetheless it is not a door many chose willing – usually it is precipitation by pain and suffering.

Read the rest of my article on transformation and see more of my paintings in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.

Oracle Cards Update
celtic-goddess-oracle-cards-by-judith-shaw
I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed and/or shared my crowdfunding campaign, raising funds for the production of my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards. The campaign ended successfully on 10/19/17. In fact it went slightly over my goal, reaching 120% funding. The final edits and pre-print work are in progress now. The decks should be ready for shipment by late November. In the meantime you can still  get one of the first 100 decks published. They are going fast. Pre-order on my website Judith Shaw Art.

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.