Sacred Blending: A Tapestry of my Creative Core

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Awhile back, a wise man named Conrad and I were chatting about my life’s tapestry, that is how it was so beautifully woven, but that a chunk of it was felt to be missing. There was a piece that I needed to fill in, that is, to re-weave, in order to be whole. I filed that wisdom away for awhile and then I visited the Mexican Museum of Art in Chicago with some dear art friends. I was so moved by how the Mexican artists throughout history blended their indigenous, core sacredness with that of the Spanish Catholics primarily in an effort to survive persecution, but also to redefine their truths for themselves in a meaningful manner. They created a new version of who they were, true to both entities, yet definitively the ‘new’ Mexican. When I shared my awe with my friend, Susan, and how it felt like something that may have meaning for my life, she said simply, “Sounds like you need to create a weaving.” Wisdom revisited.

This piece rolled around in me for quite awhile, but it really started moving and manifesting about six months after that and once it started, it just poured out. The horizontal strips (the warp in weaving terms) are the sacred pieces of my Catholic upbringing that moved me as a child and young adult to believe in something bigger and unseen. The music, the beauty of stained glass, the sacredness of saints and Mary, the story of the Passion, and the seasons and sacraments of transition all hold a sacred power in me. I had to sort through some icky stuff to find some of these memories, but when I did, they rocked me with more nurturing force than I have felt in quite some time.

The vertical strips (the weft) represent the variety of beliefs that have filtered in over my adult years. Religious traditions of Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism; Native American Indian beliefs; art and poetry; the powerful goddesses from many different cultures; and the vastness of the universe have all had intense meaning for me, yet when I’d try to figuratively weave them into the fabric of my life, they felt awkward and confusing as though they were in opposition to my past.

So with this piece I tried to literally weave them in. I was about halfway through this vertical portion when I realized, much to my amazement, that I was defining and depicting my creative core!! The center strip includes the goddesses that I call upon for support in my creative inner space. Some are from my Catholic past and some are from my more recent beliefs. My inspiration to create lies in every square, every strip surrounding this column of goddesses. I was blown away by this tangible image of who I am right before my eyes as well as the fact that my inner self had created this with underlying intentions more powerful than I could have ever dreamed. I had to physically create my creative core with my hands to see it. I had to re-weave this missing piece of my life’s tapestry to feel it slip into the blank piece of the beautiful fabric that already exists.

So, back to this goddess strip in the center…the overall red goddess image that emanates from that strip emerged as the piece developed. It started out as a cross. It was fascinating how that red image in the center began as a crucifix and then evolved into the current goddess figure. The Christian crucifix image of salvation transformed into the Sacred Feminine bulging outward with arms reaching wide to take me in and embrace all of me. Yes, I do indeed believe I am akin to the Mexican artists reweaving my truths, past and present, so that I may create the ‘new’ Ellen, thriving, creating, and literally being saved within the wholeness of my creative core.

This piece was created on a 41 x 47 x 1.5″ canvas base. The woven strips are paper on a muslin base with multiple found objects attached. Completed 2007. Original is not for sale, but images may be purchased via Fine Art America or RedBubble.

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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