Vessels of Hope.
I was working in copper, printing, overlapping images on paper to make the book when in 2016, the first Pandora’s Jar appeared, i felt the United States of America became a stage and thought i would return to clay to make the pythos the original Pandoras Jar.
I read the version of Pandora’s Myth which came to us was written down by Hesiod about 800 bc explaining that when Prometheus stole fire (knowledge, civilization), from the gods to give humanity, in wrath and in revenge, the Olympian gods asked the sculptor Hephaestus to form out of clay a beautiful woman in their own image and vanity, each was to donate a gift to entice and seduce Prometheus and bring his, and humanity’s destruction. So, Pandora, meaning all gifted, was created, but, Prometheus, meaning forethought, did not accept the treacherous gift, but his brother, Epimetheus, meaning “hindsight or afterthought” gladly accepted Pandora with the pithos, as her dowry, a sealed amphora not to be opened. It had to happen that by immature husband’s behavior, immature Pandora opened the pithos and all evils escaped.
Only hope remained inside, in the womb of woman, as when i saw the image of a pythos, it was clear it was an abstract shape of woman, and, I was not surprised to read that in the original myth, Pandora or Anesidora meant “gifts rising from the earth.” It was gifts from an all giving Mother Earth, not patriarchal vengeful gods.
Wanting to reclaim the ethics rooted in empowered femininity, in woman and in man, I began forming my pithos, but, in my inexperience i formed lopsided vessels i saw were about three, four or five months pregnant, so frustration lasted little as i saw it was a gift, It was what i had wished to communicate, the hope in and of the next generation. Eventually I was able to make a full term, round vessel, a belly ready to give birth. It became the birth of ourself. The gift of our own becoming, woman and man’s becoming, evolving. I see us being the dream of the universe, of beloved Earth, of minerals evolving life, cells, plant, animal, and humans with choice and responsibility; conscious spiritual beings not ruled by biology and the laws of physics but increasingly by the laws of metaphysics, and those expressed in quantum physics.
In Sweden, I use mostly local clay, glacier ground granite. Using old bricks I built a kiln next to the forest which gave the fuel for the fire. Coiling the clay round and round forming a hollow, a void which had more presence than the clay defining it; it became a space of possibility, a space longing for fulfillment, a space to view oneself, our thoughts and choices, a space where ideas rise from our subconscious, merging with the universal consciousness. When the hollow is almost completely enclosed, the “skin” of the vessel becomes important, and I delight in burnishing, aligning the microscopic clay discs to reflect the light, to give impermeability and resilience. I burnish asking forgiveness for the loss of dignity and respect of Nature pollution and destruction of ecosystems our generation leaves behind. I burnish with love and gratefulness for the Earth of our beginning and with love and hope in the children of the future to restore the walk in Beauty.
Once I saw the vessel as an eyeball, and the opening as a pupil looking at me. Like the all-seeing eye of Odin of the Norse mythology. The eye he sacrificed to Mimer’s Well of Wisdom.
A new series of vessels are formed from the clay particles resulting from glaciers grinding and rounding the great granite rock laying like a pregnant belly on the Garden of Aluseo, (without illusions). In this Garden with the forever falling tree. I form vessels by coiling, symbolically the silver serpent i saw sunning on the pool next to the first water lily that bloomed. In this garden the silver serpent is a symbol of Nature’s wisdom and force, as the sperm driving mankind’s evolution towards a conscious being.
The black vessels I think of as Sisyphus’ Rock worn and rounded from thousands of years of rolling in the begginning he rolled in anger and frustration at proud, cunning, competitive and lascivious gods who punished him for outwitting them and Death.
During Christian times he rolled the rock with acceptance, and in remorse, in expiation of his sins, for having killed his brother’s taken his throne, seduced his niece whose hand he discerned in the markings of the rock as well as his brother’s face and the faces of the guests he had killed defying greek laws of hospitality. In time he rolled it hoping it would ease humanity suffering and existential meaninglessness.
The rock, when small, after thousands of years of rolling it was no effort he actually rolled it to keep in shape, in time when he saw the destruction of Nature, instead of rolling it, he hollowed it to become the water bearing vessel for the Garden, symbolizing the end of a competitive, warring patriarchy. It becomes the beginning of a gentle, cooperative, forgiving, restorative and just matriarchy, of feminine/masculine balance. It is the return to walk on the BeautyPath, the Native American expression for living in harmony with mother Earth.
The white womb vessels, like the moon, are a reminder of the passing of time, of beginning and completion cycles of projects and stages. It is the nearest celestial body and furthest point our naked eye can focus on. It is a gateway to the vast universe beyond and within. It is the symbol of giving and receiving.
At the final stages of my life, having gone through a few deaths and rebirths, themes and mediums, it is beautiful to return to the simplicity of clay, clay particles returning to form the circular, round form of wholeness and completion.