ARCHITECTURAL HEART ARMOR:
Heart Armor and Heart Shields 2020
This series is particularly appropriate and needed now as so many of us have to pull ourselves together during the siege of this pandemic and ignorant leadership, both shaking the essence of who we are as individuals and citizens of this nation and the world. Feelings of helplessness abound. Heart Armor body and architectural adornment is a talisman to garner strength and will to overcome adversity. Each piece is a wish, a hope, a prayer. I have created close to one hundred architectural sized Heart Armors and Heart Shields during the COVID-19 summer and dozens of body adornments during this fall.
An avid world traveler homebound, I escaped into Greek Mythology focusing on the goddess Demeter, her daughter Persephone and the gods Apollo and Hephaestus. We modeled our democracy after the Greeks. As the Greeks conquered more neighboring nations, their gods and goddesses incorporated characteristic of their neighbor’s gods and goddesses. Consequently Demeter’s skills continued to expand from ruling fertility, farming, and the home to law bringer and moral force. Her daughter Persephone has many of these skills but also the mystery of living half the year in Hades and half above ground. Apollo is the god of essential arts: music, visual arts, poetry dance and of prophecy and healing arts. Hephaestus was actually thrown out of Mount Olympus because of physical deformity. He reclaimed his place because of his unsurpassed talents in metalsmithing. Hephaestus made the trident of Poseidon, the lightning bolt of Zeus. He is the god of FIRE.
Enduring and evolving over 2 decades, this concept emerged from studying a dry milkweed pod in the aftermath of 911 while trying to cope with my brother's death from colon cancer. This pod once shielded its seeds as they matured, then blew away leaving just the husk as symbol of the protective vigil of its life force and also a kind of faith in nature that its cycle would continue in the next generation of seeds like my brother does with his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren; with my sister, my closest family since I could not have children of my own. The first two life sized pod forms sculpted in sterling silver inverted and joined forming the two halves of a heart as a new friend lamented the love of his life walking out on him. I said," You need some Heart Armor and I'm going to build it for you."
The first Heart Armor appeared as a series of sterling and copper brooches and earrings that could offer wearers a "touchstone" of strength during hard times. So many are in need of some talisman to garner their will to survive, like seeds stored in a granary offer hope of a future crop. Its exciting to explore the theme in scale that ranges from one half inch to eight feet.
These first sculptures of both large and small scale were formed as the elders at Taos Pueblo entered a drumming cycle calling for rain to replenish the river through their home that had gone dry for the first time in the memory of The People. During this time they gathered the youth to clean the beaver damns from the headwaters which originated at The Sacred Blue Lake on their land. After four days, it rained. In 5 days water began to reappear in the stream that nourished the pueblo. Several of these pieces emerged with the pulse-like drumming of thanks to Creator, for hearing their plea and giving them sustenance. I lived and worked within one and a half miles of Taos Pueblo then and link the sound of pulse, drum and hammer. I always hear this drumming when working on these pieces, even here in my Maryland studio twenty years later creating this new series.
A hoarder by nature, collected and upcycled pieces of found metal have become a staple in Heart Armor construction. Heart Shields were born to use the scraps in smaller pieces. Old burned corrugated roofing gathered from the home of former students, a Victorian copper roof, from historic Uniontown, the original Art Deco ceiling of the building housing Carroll Arts, and a gift of turquoise siding joined this vocabulary. The metal is distressed, telling the story of battle with the elements, as inspiration for each individual to pull from their inner most resources and stand unvanquished and indomitable during times of personal crisis. This art is about any individual any where who has faced tragedy and gotten on with their life, or needs to.