And now for something completely different…
Per my last post, I have been using my jobless time to employ myself in the making of some new art shrines. For those who aren’t familiar, these mixed media or assemblage pieces are based pretty firmly (though not exclusively) in Latin American devotional art…that being said, though, there is great variety in the types of shrines. Despite the fact that the themes stem from religious (largely Catholic) sources, there can be a good dose of folk belief mixed in, too.
Of shrine types, there is the retablo, literally “behind the altar”, usually based on saints or other biblical miracles/ themes; ex voto, short for “ex voto suscepto” or “from the vow made,” a votive prayer/offering from a worshiper seeking grace, or in thanks for receiving grace such as surviving an accident or being healed of an illness. Then there is the nicho, the small box or enclosure for one of these, though the word also refers to the entire shrine itself.
In my interpretation of such shrines, I use non-traditional themes that appeal to me as well, such as goddess awareness or even more mundane subjects like sewing. The concept behind the art object is one of getting more centered or connected in oneself through the visual and tactile observation of the shrine. The shrine is a little reminder of a feeling or state one wants to stay aware of, the way certain music, say, may be similarly evocative.
The fact that these objects are linked to a long, long history of art based on spiritual themes is fascinating and inspiring to me. After all, if one looks at it in historical perspective, probably the vast majority of art of all forms (visual art, music, theater, etc.) is based on some kind of religious/spiritual theme, whatever that religion or spiritual system may be. I make no judgments on those systems, but pick and choose the ones that are meaningful or even have a whimsical appeal to me. Myths, miracles, iconic symbols, folk wisdom, inspirational words - all are valid subjects.