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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Musings;Art Outside the Box-Symbols I have known.

As someone who has always turned to animal imagery, it's always a hard moment when someone says, " You really like frogs, don't you? "Or bugs, or any of the other creatures that fly, swim or crawl through my work.
Symbolism doesn't work that way. It's not a matter of what you like. Images are taskmasters. They grab hold and won't let go until you somehow dance with them. Work with them. Run them through the mill of the mind. Do what you will. Somehow that image will come around again and again until you've found a way to flip it into a different place internally.


Every so often I run into some bright eyed youngster who tells me their totem is the wolf, the dolphin, the eagle, etc. I loved the young man who told me his was the great brown bear. He didn't know enough to know that that image  is usually viewed as female. He was trying to follow indigenous religion and thought. He thought it was cool.  I think I would have shocked him had I told him, but perhaps he was improved by a female totem.


I've been writing art statements long enough to be aware of where much of my imagery starts. The frogs and bugs come from some fairly deep seated body images.The fish are about life in the stream of life. The birds are about the mix of feral wisdom within a bird's life. And in the midst of all of it, I know with certainty, I'm quilting people I know.  Most often it's about me. It's mostly social commentary. I'm trying to make sense of my life.


At one point when I was constantly on the road, I couldn't leave the dragonflies alone. Then it hit me. They live a transitory life, flitting from place to place. It was like they'd read my itinerary.


I often don't understand my own imagery except in retrospect. That's fine. If I pay attention, listen to the images that drive me, they will fuel my art.It may heal the bruised bits of ego and id that rule the internal chaos.Art is causative and purposely for transformation. Good art changes the relationship between the artist and whatever symbol they're in action with.


Perhaps what each of us have to give that is most precious as artists, is the unique view that spills out of our art. The symbols are a vocabulary. It makes sense if each of us is an island, a separate and distant country, that that language not be the same as anyone elses. What is most miraculous is when someone else sees that land from their distant shore, reaches it to view that different county, and can make the translation of it for themselves. When that happens, art breaks all boundaries, changes people's thought's and minds and hearts.

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