Artomatic opens tomorrow and I’m imagining a series of post about artists whose work is informed and inspired by their spiritual journeys and interactions with the sacred all around them. Artists who dive deep into their souls and bring up images and visions to share of their journey. Artists who intentionally bring a spiritual dimension to their work.
My good friend Alyson M. Olander, the Hasty Quilter, is showing two series that focus on the patterns and cycles found in nature, and has agreed to be my guinea pig on this experience.
What inspires you to create?
Just about everything provides me with the inspiration to create. Whether I actually do it is another question. I am most inspired by patterns, repeating lines, concentric circles, angles and corners. It is amazing to me that spirals are naturally occurring phenomena. Color gradients tickle my fancy. Close-up or macro photos jump out at me. I like to imagine the air floating around us as quilting lines.
In her Full Moon series, Alyson researches the cultural associations with each lunation cycle, meditates on how the ancient meanings of those moons fit into her life, and finally translates the images and symbols she see in the meditation into a compelling quilt. In Wind Moon (right), thread and beads recall the strong spring breezes of March and the havoc they create on the impermanent, delicate cherry blossoms.
What is the relationship of your artwork to your spirituality?
Each piece is a meditation; a journey; a lesson. My spiritual nature is based around learning and changing and accepting. When I need to learn something internal, or I need to get something out, the best way for me to do it is creatively. Some lessons are easier to learn, some paths are harder to follow. This is a metaphor for my art. Some days it works, other days it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, maybe it’s because I’m not ready for that lesson. Then I put it away for another time. I can always tell when I try to force the lesson, to me the quilt is never the best it could have been. Translating my spiritual experiences into my creativity is a new concept for me. Although my art has been spiritual since I discovered my artistic voice, I don’t think I ever really put two and two together until recently. My full moon series is an attempt to understand how spirituality and creativity correlate.
In her larger Water and Stones, concentric circles ripple outward from each stone and overlap each other creating intricate patterns and multiple focal points — really, I just love looking at these pieces and getting lost in them.
To my eye, your pieces tend more to the abstract, to the underlying patterns found in nature. Are you always looking at the world around you in this way?
I enjoy a good landscape as much as the next person and regularly photograph them, with the intention of translating them to fabric. But when I get right down to it, I’d rather concentrate on the blade of grass. I’m attracted to texture, and texture is hard to express when the mountain is miles away. I like to think that if you “zoomed out” of one of my abstract quilts you would discover that it was actually the scale of a fish or the petal of a flower, like one of those games where you only get part of the picture and you have to figure out what it is. If nothing else, the larger, literal view inspires me to look closer & find the abstract.