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Novalis

wan(ing, wax)ing – Art as Sacred Space

February 17th, 2017

‘wan(ing,wax)ing’ by Chaney Trotter

Many thanks to gifted artist and OBOD member Chaney Trotter for this fabulous guest post. Here Chaney writes about her stunning piece ‘wan(ing, wax)ing’. Chaney’s beautiful work can be found here on her website. 

In June of 2016, under the light of the waxing Full Moon and just days before Alban Hefin, I completed my first installation that was greatly inspired by the guidance of the OBOD studies. I had made several site-specific works before, but this was the largest to date, and one that I felt made the strongest connection to my ideas as a direct result of finally diving into a Druid state of mind. After two months of planning, harvesting, building, and transporting the pieces to a remote campsite in upstate New York, I finally saw wan(ing, wax)ing come alive just as the moon came to spread its own illuminating force onto the bright lunar molds mounted central to the shrine. I wanted the piece to be invitingly powerful in the presence of a human, yet humbly venerating of its sister in the sky as each night fell. The temple, with its driftwood arms meant to resemble a ribcage opening up in a breath, lived for several nights under silver light as the Summer Solstice quickly approached.     

My desire with wan(ing, wax)ing was to create a space where one could reflect on the symbolism of shifting Natural forces and how loss, darkness, and death are just as important to the soul as gains, lightness and new life. The Moon’s association with cyclical change was a perfect theme to this piece, as each of its phases hold an intimate lesson about the ephemeral nature of all states of being. Ideologies and philosophies come and go, bodies are brought into this world and then returned to the Earth, shifting plates become mountains which erode back down into valleys…everything rises, falls, and rises again. I valued this theme in the OBOD studies with all of its legends that valued opposite entities and the balancing ebb and flow of the Universe. In respect to this idea, I wanted to portray two opposite stages of the Moon- in both its crescent waning and its crescent waxing state- simultaneously mounted in order to collapse the passage of time and bring the rest of its cyclical form out of the shadows.

The trifold body for the central resin pieces intends to serve as a temple that evokes an ancient reverence for the builders of our past, while offering sanctuary for the beings in our present. The interwoven organic and industrial materials are meant to reflect an overlap in time, as if the carpenters of an ancient civilization collaborated with modern architects, and the ancestral belief in mysticism never dissipated after centuries of scientific evolution. For years, I struggled to connect modern industrial materials to ideas of mythology and ancestry, until the day came within my OBOD practice when I realized that they were connected all along. Druidry was the missing piece in my art process…its language spoke to both the old world and the new, and awakened a common ground between ancient and contemporary craftwork. The way it spoke about time as a dimensional element that didn’t necessarily separate us from our Druid ancestors with the many years between us, but rather served as a thread through which knowledge was passed, helped me to create these hybrid sculptures with greater confidence.

Working through the lessons, I saw materials in new, enlightened ways, and it opened up so many new pathways of thinking whenever I put my hands to work. As I focused on connecting myself to the four elements in the OBOD studies, I found new ways to view the lives of each piece in the installation. Wooden beams still bore rings to show their earthly age before the harvest, and enormous driftwood pieces got their polished shape from the river currents that had flowed over them for months, perhaps even years at a time. Gathered Spanish moss I weaved into the jute netting had been fervently tossed around by storm winds just days before, giving an abstract, twisted shape to the coils. The translucent casts of the half-moon molds reached hundreds of degrees when curing, producing the slightest flicker of a flame atop the surface as it hardened into shape and fossilized its contents. The fiery resin encompassed grass and twigs, and as it heated the earthly elements, evaporating moisture sculpted pockets of air within the mold to leave a trail marking its path, ending in a plume of white smoke that hovered briefly in the air. The entire process was a collaboration between Earth, Fire, Air and Water reacting to one another, taking on sculptural movements all on its own while I waited for it to settle into its final form.

We still create monuments today, but these monuments are often in respect to individuals or institutions…we marvel at the great bridges that soar over bays and the skyscrapers that boast their silhouettes against the Sun, but hardly do we create something that venerates the simple notion that we are able to create at all. These are the types of monuments I want to create- ones that collaborate with Nature and pay homage to the ancestral forces illustrating how lightness and darkness balance one another in a cosmic ballet. Druidry guided me toward realizing each sculptural element’s resonating power, and with my shrines and temples and totems made from these pieces, I aim to step away and let that power speak for itself unto anyone willing to listen.   

~  Chaney Trotter- 2017

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