Fiber Arts #8: A Mandala

As mentioned in the first of these three final posts on Fiber Arts, and in the second too, the second-to-last textile piece I made while attending graduate school was a mandala based on my own personal worldview and spirituality. I think the year was 2007, and it was spring-time — anyway, here it be:

This mandala was based on various mandalas I had seen woven and printed from mainly Japanese areas — I was struck by the graphic nature of many of them. In particular, I enjoyed the presence of multiple visual narratives that interlink. So, I began with a central mythological realm at the center, with the eyeball spiral at its center. The spiral was copies from an actual mandala, though the eyeball was original (if I’m remembering correctly) — and was intended to represent perception and cognition of the world — which is the gateway to awareness, life, and any potential enlightenment. The city in the clouds represents  human civilization, while the mountains represent nature and the underlying presence of Mother Earth. Meanwhile, the blue dog represents the forces of nature and the power of meditation simultaneously, in that both make us as human beings aware of our place in the universe.

The face of the blue beastie entails a series of faces reflecting each other to show the multiple selves and emotions that are infinitely possible in each of us — while the center is composed of 2 superheroes and two women in purple as representative ideals for what one person can be in their lifetime.

At the very top, my personal understanding of divinity is enshrined int he form of a wind-goddess who comes down to earth, a fire god representing renewal and rebirth, and the planet Earth as our ever-present home. The two sides have separate narratives that are totally lost on this fabric — the print just didn’t work out! But they were intended to be stories that could be read top to bottom or bottom to top: one of a young woman who could be flying off of a building top or landing on it, and the other of a meditating monk turning into a superhero (hint: who wears blue and gold and has metal claws?) or a superhero turning into a monk. In both stories, the central character flies off to be part of the central mandala, in both potential readings of their story (thus 2 superheroes and 2 ladies are in the central mandala). Here’s a detail of the eye and the two side stories:

Lastly, there’s a bunch of stuff on the bottom to signify what is valuable in life: from language to beginnings/endings (the A and U — alpha and omega), from a nautilus (read the poem, The Chambered Nautilus) to a blue cow (see Hathor of ancient Egyptian religion), and various animals (whose meaning I sadly forget).

In short, and as you can likely see, I completely overestimated what I was capable of in this medium, or perhaps simply in this particular creative process. The detail was not fine enough in my stencils, the dye did not cohere so well or so clearly, and the overall effect is not one that I am particularly happy with. So, it returns to a chest of other disappointing pieces, to perhaps be resurrected as something else, something better.

And so ends the Great Bear Month series on Fiber Arts — soon to come are the final entries in the Sadie Hawkins Mysteries and a few more comics.

Thank you for bearing with me, and please do come back for more…

Growlingly yours,

J

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