29 March 2012

Self Portrait in 7 Levels

I have been working on the little box I got at the Goodwill, making a self portrait in seven levels. I researched the seven chakras, and in each little section of the piece, I am assembling a symbolic representation of seven aspects of myself as artist. I also like the number 7 because that's my birthday, July 7 (7-7; same day as Ringo Starr and Marc Chagall!). So it is a good number to use for a self portrait.

For each section, I am doing a short mediation on the nature of that chakra, and manifesting a background image in a different medium. Here are some photos of the work in progress, starting from the root:

1. Root Chakra, representing the earth element, my passions, and the gardener side of myself. For this section I made a lino-block print of a five-petaled flower, in tribute to the rose family which provides so much of our food. I colored in the background with colored pencil and painted over in acrylic.

2. Base Chakra, representing water, creativity, and the side of myself that loves to paint. It is curious that I did not realize this chakra existed until I began this project, and yet I am considered a very "watery" person. More on that, later. For this section I painted a tiny self portrait in oil, with a field of marigolds in the background.

3. Solar Plexus Chakra, representing fire, energy, and those more practical things that I do with my hands, such as ceramics, sculpture, mask-making, jewelry-making, sewing, etc. I used the Hand of Fatima image in this section because it is a symbol that comes up in all aspects of my life. I drew and colored it with pencils.

4. Heart Chakra, representing air, touch, trust, and the side of myself that is a dancer. For me, dancing is all about opening your heart, trusting yourself, letting go of the need to keep defenses. For this section I made a stencil of an abstract heart with wings, printed it onto the linen paper, colored it with pencil, and painted over that with acrylic.

5. Throat Chakra, representing ether, sound, communication, and the musical part of me. I sketched a graphic that implies a banjo, and will paint it in acrylic. I envision installing a tiny audio player so that people can push a button and hear a sample of my work.

6. Third Eye Chakra, representing intuition, wisdom, and my writerly nature. So many aspects of myself come out through my writing that I couldn't settle on a symbolic image other than that of the eye, with my own shape reflected in the iris an and eight-pointed lotus around it to represent the crossroads at which I so often find myself. I drew this image in ink, colored in with pencil, and added acrylic paint some sections.

7. The wooden shelf I started with only has six sections, so I needed to create a seventh level to accommodate the crown. I built a little shrine for the crown in papier-mache and painted it in acrylic. Then I made a little paper flower with seven petals, and glued it in.

I also wanted to associate each of the seven sections with a different aspect of my genetic and cultural self: Mexican, Spanish, Cree, Chihuahua, Irish, French and American. Further, I want to infuse symbols that speak of the seven virtues/vices...I haven't quite figured out how to incorporate it all just yet...

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