Cerrridwen, Taliesin…and a Blue Hen?

Blue Hen plywood

It all started with the hen, the blue hen to be exact. The City of Newark, DE is having a fundraiser – in the style of the decorated animal sculptures you have seen – I am sure – in many cities across the country. As the state bird is the Blue Hen… artists have been given a plywood silhouette, app. 30″ tall. Out birds will be auctioned off in September, and will be displayed (inside) at various businesses in town, and on Main St. The previous picture shows the earliest stages, after carving up my bird, to create a niche inside. Then she was covered in paper – from the Encyclopedia Britannica, or course. And yes, I used the article on “Poultry farming”. 

Blue Hen paper

I knew right away I wanted to create a shrine in the body of the hen. Shrines are my most personal, expressive medium. Although the chicken is not a totem animal I use symbolically in my work, I wanted to challenge myself to make a “real” piece, not just a fundraiser donation. I had committed my name, my time, and energy to this venture, and I wanted it to be true to my body of work… So the only mythic reference to a chicken in Western myth that came to my mind – was the myth of Cerridwen. She is the Keeper of the Cauldron – in which She brews inspiration. She is the Goddess of rebirth, transformation, inspiration. She is a creatrix, a mother, a wise woman… In the classic myth regarding her: She brews an elixir for her son, hiring the boy Gwion to stir the cauldron. After a year and a day – the mythic measure of time for an arduous task – the potion splashes Gwion’s thumb. He sucks it, to cool the burn and receives all the wisdom, knowledge therein. Greatly displeased – Cerridwen pursues Gwion to punish him. The chase takes on epic proportions as they shape shift through many animal forms, each pair representing an element. These animal pairings will be shown on the hen itself…

sawing animals

hound and hare

otter and salmon

songbird and raptor

The greyhound and the hare. The otter and the salmon. The hawk and the songbird. But where does the hen come in? After three transformations, as the chase continues, Gwion turns himself into a grain of wheat. Cerridwen as a hen, simply eats the grain. In nine months, She gives birth to Taliesin – who is to become the greatest bard of all time. Rebirth, inspiration, transformation… 

Hen nearly complete

The niche will hold a small clay tile of Taliesin – whose name translates as “Radiant Brow” referencing the ‘fire in the head’ of divine inspiration and enlightenment. It seemed fitting to have him incubating there. I plan to include the text of the myth with the piece. I know that many will find it more in depth than they prefer. But I feel that keeping the inspiration pure and not simplifying the concept of the work is honest, and a homage to Cerridwen herself. The overall color palette is natural and harmonious, very earthy. I hope it finds an appreciative audience when it goes out into the world in September, and does its part to raise funds for the Newark Arts Alliance.   Please feel free to comment and tell me your thoughts!

( I will add new pix as the work progresses!)

Fortitude…

Main Entry: for·ti·tude
Pronunciation: ?fo?r-t?-?tüd, –?tyüd
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Latin fortitudin-, fortitudo, from fortis
Date: 12th century

1 : strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage

A little dramatic, perhaps. I am not in pain, nor danger. I am four days from installing my first solo show at the local arts co-op – The Newark Arts Alliance. But have I mentioned I am out of town this weekend? So really two days away… Today is a day filled with lists: to do lists, lists of work to finish, clerical matters, newletters, blogs, price lists, artist statements…<sigh> So it is a day when I am tapping into my inner fortitude – where did I put that? Right…

Here’s the important info you need to attend my fabulous, inspirational show:

Ariadne collage

(Ariadne: Mistress of the Labyrinth, mixed media collage, 16 x 20″, 2008)

Myth and Nature; transformed

Mixed Media Artwork by Jennifer Davies-Reazor

Newark Arts Alliance – 276 E> Main St Suite 102, Newark De 19711

May 4 – 29th. Artist Reception Friday, May 7th – 6 -8 pm.

Hours: 11 am – 3 pm daily. Thursday 11am – 7pm. Closed Monday.

Really – must get to the next task on the list. Busy day, and I am prepared to make it a good one! Hope to see you next week!

Frenetic…

Main Entry: fre·net·ic
Pronunciation: fri-?ne-tik
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English frenetik insane, from Anglo-French, from Latin phreneticus, modification of Greek phrenitikos, from phrenitis inflammation of the brain, from phren-, phr?n diaphragm, mind
Date: 14th century
“Inflammation of the brain” – that discribes the state of affairs here rather well. I am in full on frenzied production mode finishing – well, starting AND finishing new mixed media work for my first solo show. I have clay drying – hopefully to be fired and glazed in time. I have shrines awaiting interior installments. I have lined up blank canvases primed (pun intended) for paper, paint and glue.
studio shot(You can just see the shrines in the foreground on the left. And two labyrinth themed colalges on the work table, very near completion.)
Please save the date: Friday May 7th at the Newark Arts Alliance here in town. The reception is from 6-8 pm. So there are finishings artwork lists, and reception/organisational exhibit lists…
And icing on the cake – my friend Cooky will be here from San Diego! WooHoo! She is the owner of The Shepherdess – bead and fiber store extrordinaire – in Old Town, and an incredible mixed media artist/jeweler in her own right.  Coming for her first East Coast visit to my humble abode, she is drafted to help hang my show! Hee Hee. But she is also here on business and she and I will be attending MD Sheep and Wool Festival over the May Day weekend. So lets get this artwork prepped early – there is fun to be had; wine to be drunk, fibers to be fondled…
I digress. More on the show in the coming days/week… I need to get back to the studio. “Inflammation of the brain” – yes, that does sum it up…