Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Making Art | Vessels of Pain and Healing


Thirty spokes join in one hub
In its emptiness, there is the function of a vehicle
Mix clay to create a container
In its emptiness, there is the function of a container
Cut open doors and windows to create a room
In its emptiness, there is the function of a room
Therefore, that which exists is used to create benefit
That which is empty is used to create functionality
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching

It is extremely rare to encounter art which speaks to the heart in the contemporary art world; therefore I was particularly engaged by two engaging different exhibitions —Michael Morgan's Impermanent Vessels and Ruby Rumié's  Hálito Divino  (Divine Breath)— which have definitely the power to bring our emotions to the surface, with art interventions invoking cathartic action

The works were shown in two different 2014 exhibitions, a few months apart: Impermanent Vessels opened in Geelong (Australia) in May, while Hálito Divino is currently on view in New York. The Australian Michael Morgan and Colombian Ruby Rumié's art/existential explorations are different in media and message yet present uncanny similarities: both evolved in the Southern hemisphere, and are motivated by art as a healing means —but most of all, both art practices  use, in a multitude of media,the emptiness of vessels to symbolize and even literally represent the reality of impermanence and the presence of absence: to ultimate find solace, or perhaps just reconciliation from pain, with art motivated actions. Michael's interdisciplinary work is probably more conceptual, and deals with the Buddhist concept of change, cosmic interconnections and  transition. The re-birth of his head molded vessels was from a tragic life loss.
Ruby's exhibition, as many other of the artist's multimedia works, is also a social commentary, more specifically on domestic violence, resulting from " a workshop conducted in 2013 in the neighborhood of Getsemani, in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia". Continuing from the exhibition press release:
The project focuses on the experiences of 100 women between the ages of 18 and 72, who have been victims of domestic violence. Hálito Divino (Divine Breath) uses pain and trauma to create and express, restore and heal.
At the beginning of the workshop, each participant chose one of 100 white pots arranged for them. They then exhaled their pain inside the pot, as an intimate and individual exercise that culminated the experience of breath as a force of life. At the end, the pots were sealed and marked with the initials of each participant, a symbolic gesture to encapsulate their pain. Each of them was given the figure of a woman, cast using the ancestral lost-wax technique, as an amulet, a token symbolizing her participation.
The exhibition reflects the three phases of the project: photographs of the white pots used in the workshop, black pots representing a stage of mourning, and 32 pots of different sizes crowned by delicate gold metalwork resembling the amulets the women received as a symbol of their rebirth.
I was particularly touched by the exhibition as well as the personalities of both artists, warm and engaging. But most of all, I was intrigued by the commonalities, which I share in my own work, of how a processed based art practice can serve as therapy. I am dealing with my own demons and an art practice in its multiple aspects, from physical engagement to cognitive explorations, has offered emotional solace and promoting healing.

730 Fifth Avenue,New York
September 10 - October 18, 2014