The concept of “Shards” is a foundational inspiration in all my artwork – an idea that helps me trust the creative process and follow where it leads me.
To me, Shards are synchronistic fragments that hint at a story, make a collective connection, or suggest a direction. Shards can be objects, or an intangible occurrences. A Shard can be a brief glimpse of something, as well, something that helps you find a direction.
For example, last week I was taking my usual pre-dawn walk in our wooded neighborhood when I saw what I could have sworn was a Nativity creche scene in a distant yard. It was so clear that I could see the roof of the lean-to shelter.
As I got closer, I saw that it was just a string of Christmas lights around somebody’s front door, partially concealed by blowing branches. But the illusion of the creche-like shelter seemed so significant in its clarity. Why that illusion at that time?
I followed that thought-thread as I walked back towards home, considering the whole idea of shelter for travelers, of people who go on journeys to freedom and safety, of how fortunately I was to have a safe destination and a home to return to. I thought about pilgrims and wayfarers, about what it must be like to carry all your belongings with you.
Then came the memory jog. That whole pilgrimage concept reminded me of a series of clay assemblages I had done five or six years ago called “Peregrinos” (Spanish for Pilgrims). It was an age-old theme that I had I wanted to go back to at the time, but had pushed it to the back of my mind.
Peregrino Series, Earthenware assemblage, Lyn Belisle 2015
Now, though, this Peregrino theme inspired by the mistaken illusion directed me straight to my studio to begin the mixed-media fiber piece I’m working on now. Its working title is The Pilgrim Scrolls. The form is a triptych of canvas scrolls that contain pictures and small relics and memories that represent things we take with us on our journey.
The triptych (so far) has photo transfers of my original Peregrino clay assemblages along with other images and components. It will have smaller scrolls, patches, stitches, and pockets. It speaks to homelessness, but not randomness.
Phototransfer on canvas in progress
Part of the techniques I’m employing, particularly the phototransfer on fabric, came from my recent Prayer Flag workshop, but I would not have been given the Peregrino/Pilgrim theme without the “synchronistic Shard sighting” that was not even what it seemed. I’m really looking forward to completing this work, to seeing where it takes me and what I learn.
During Covid-time, I’ve had more time to think about sources of artistic inspiration, and I want to explore more about my “shards” and other kinds of synchronistic fragments that seem like a secret handshake from a deeply collective and timeless source. There’s always something surprising to discover, and something to say about that discovery.
I’m re-reading a book that I keep coming back to over the years called The Tao of Psychology: Synchronicity and the Self by Jean Shinoda Bolen.
She’s written many books, but this is one of her first, and my favorite. You’ll like the way she explains synchronicity and why sometimes it seems as if we are meant to be in a particular place at a particular time to come across a particular “Shard.” Here’s a link.
If you’ve read this far, perhaps you’d like to know that I finished Pilgrim Scroll last night – here’s how it turned out – I’m very happy with the way the shards led me!