The title of this series comes from Jungian psychiatrist Marian Woodman, who writes about building symbolic places, or chrysalises, into which to retreat when in vulnerable times of personal growth, in which to "create a loving communication with [our] own inner symbols" and a connection with the unconscious and the soul. In these sculptures, I wanted to provide visualizations of this idea and a message that by taking time out to become clearer and to hear our internal messages, we can change ourselves and, thus, the world around us.
The chrysalis forms that evolved from this idea come from places in my life in which I have felt protected and protected spaces in nature - maternal arms, nests, cradles, cocoons, caves and, as some viewers are wont to privilege, our first protective space, our mothers' wombs…Some of the interior spaces in these sculptures are large enough to hold a human figure, others just the human spirit.
The water-born Caddis flies, whose larvae use their glue-like secretions to create, out of the sand and small pieces of plants around them in the creek bed, a case in which to grow, is symbolic of how my current experience is made up of the bits and pieces of my various exposures. These influences and ideas are woven into the background of this series:
Husserl's belief in the need for rigorous self-examination, for a periodic sifting out of irrelevant phenomenon in order to get to an authentic reality. The hermeneutic circle of questioning, seeking answers and reformulating the questions to get to a deeper understanding, even if it is only a practical uncertainty. Rilke's advice to live the questions now.
Neitzche said there is no one truth, but I think there is a personal truth, however temporal, and that is the present ground on which to stand. To stay current with that personal truth, we need to keep looking for the questions, the answers, the eidetic or essential. Finding time for such personal examinations is made difficult by the multiple enticements and distractions of contemporary society. As T. S.Eliot put it, we are being distracted from distraction by distraction. I see these chrysalises as sound-proof rooms in which to eliminate the distractions and distortions and to critique ourselves until that personal truth and our authentic soul is re-discovered.
Then Sun kissed my Chrysalis
And I stood up
Wherever the path of my father's work took us, my parents chose houses near undeveloped areas for my brothers' and my entertainment. The hillside web of exposed tree roots in Charlotte became pathways and houses for fairies. I collected dewberries, horny toads, lightening bugs and crayfish on the old Fondren Ranch. I climbed pine trees to catch the wind and imagined myself an intrepid explorer of creeks and forests in Dunwoody. The hayfields of Hudson, bordered by wild plums and black raspberries, were playgrounds for hide and seek and maze building.
Each summer we drove our way back to Cuero, stopping at such natural wonders as caves, swamps, canyons, mountain lookouts and deserts. The women in my family were often doing some kind of handwork - quilting, tatting, knitting, crocheting, embroidery, sewing - and adding their own bit of creativity to each piece. My paternal grandparents owned a farm, where Grandmother Inez, a first grade teacher, taught me how to make "environments" for the snakes, toads and turtles I befriended - chicken wire, pie pan & bungie cord contraptions housed with grass, twigs and weeds for their comfort. My maternal grandparents lived in town in a small house surrounded by large pecan trees and vegetable gardens, in which we would build Easter nests out of the abundance of Indian paintbrushes, buttercups and bluebonnets.
Images from the Chrysalis Show at Toucan Gallery, Billings, Montana
Video Description of Chrysalis