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Posts from November 2007

Retablo blue

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Detail from a Traditional Retablo (acrylic, Virgin Most Powerful Pray for Us by Nicole Goldman) / Houston, TX / Nov. 2007

I love the colors that this artist used -- the cobalt blue and shades of red and gold. Simple paint strokes make her dress look like a tapestry. Offering a votive object to a god or a holy person in thanks or as a petition was common in many cultures including the ancient Greeks, pre-Columbian America, and India. Sometimes the votive objects are called “ex-votos,” from the Latin for “from (or out of) a vow” (i.e., it is an offering for an answered prayer or a request).

“An appreciation for ex-voto paintings as an art form was fostered in the 20th century due, in large part, to the efforts to some of the great Mexican artists of the century who collected ex-votos. Diego Rivera praised ex-voto retablos as a true and unique expression of Mexican culture. Frida Kahlo, more than any other artist, used the form of the ex-voto retablo as a compositional device in her own works. Thus, the tradition of ex-voto retablo painting continues today, both as an expression of devotion and as an artistic and cultural phenomenon.” (via Kalarte Gallery)


Communication with the divine

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Cost Per Peace (metal and plastic; a retablo by Pattii Montgomery) / Houston, TX / Nov. 2007

Throughout Latin America a “retablo” traditionally refers to a broad variety of religious images that are painted or sculpted. The word is derived from the Latin retro tabula, which means “behind the (altar) table,” where devotional images were typically placed (via Indigo Arts). According to The Journal of American Folklore, humans make retablos to interact on a personal level with the divine. At the Lawndale Arts Center Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration they displayed over 250 retablos -- all wonderfully creative interpretations on the retablo theme.


Encouraging artists to stretch and grow

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...as a self-portrait the skull represents the inner self, the unique qualities of your personality that give structure to your life (Journal Quilt Project 2002 by Lynne G. Harrill) / Houston, TX / Nov. 2007

As I learned this weekend, a Journal Quilt is a "free-form exercise in creativity, specifically; planned to encourage quilt artists to stretch and grow by trying new methods; by experimenting with color, image, composition, materials, and/or technique; by keeping an informal journal to record the influences on their experimental work and their own reactions to this work; and by showing the further influence of time on an artist's creative development and personal progress." These wonderful, small (usually about 8.5 by 11 inches) works of art were fascinating and inspiring. Many of the artists made one per month -- each expressing what they were feeling at the time and/or experimenting with new techniques.