About the Sacred in Objects

Posted on April 29, 2011

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Handmade PaperI was captivated by the precious way in which each piece of paper was stacked and folded neatly, with care. I was watching a film called Vision, about 12th century Christian mystic and scientist Hildegard von Bingen (very good, by the way) and  the detail of paper within a scene caught my attention. I began to ponder the life of that paper, within the time period and setting. Where had they bought it, who had made it, how much did it cost for them, and what would they put on it? It must have meant so much more to them then, and the precious paper was considered sacred in its use.

Alas, today, things can be bought so easily. They can be made cheaply, and then thrown away without a care. Any supermarket or superstore you walk into will let you feel the enormity of our current production lines. It’s laughable to think of all the useless plastic toys and abundance of materials we have at our disposal considering the state of the world as a whole. Thus, I am drawn towards the times, when we had more respect for our things even a simple piece of paper.

The problem lies in overproduction and availability, and also in disconnection. We often don’t see where our food and stuff comes from, or how its made or grown, therefore we don’t appreciate it’s existence so much.If we realized how much care can go into planting and tending a sprout, weaving a basket, or making a piece of paper by hand, we would feel love and gratitude for those things. With big production though, the intimacy in creation is turned off, but then so is the quality and our connection to our things (and the earth subsequently).

I want to explore this more deeply. I am interested in the original and hand making of food and things and the reverence for materials in our lives. I’d like to get back to that, because it is a very holistic and connected way to live. When there is meaning in an object it is a material manifestation of our consideration of the sacred, for we are the ones who care about and revere it.

I also recently saw the movie “The Way Back,” and it easily became one of my favorite films. It, very simply, portrays the human struggle and spirit, in the raw. Everything is stripped away, but the essentials. In it the characters take a journey half-way around the world to save their lives. The details become more important. A scrap of cloth becomes a bandage, a savior and protector on the path.

I am interested in this appreciation, for an object. I imagine a homeless man, with nothing of monetary value to his name, and little else in his pockets. He scours the streets for cans, and along the way becomes inspired by a random object on the ground and is inspired by it. He keeps it in his pocket because in his eyes its special. It becomes like an idol to him: something that gives him meaning.

A rock can be as important, once someone gives meaning to it.

I think if I could somehow remind society that things are sacred and pertinent there could be more respect garnered in our lives today.

The connection has been broken. How can I, through my art, realign the fragments?

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Posted in: Art