Showing posts with label symbolism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label symbolism. Show all posts

Sunday, November 19, 2023


Inspiration for painting art is as broad as the universe. Subjects are endless. Some artists choose to have no subject at all, but let colors and line speak and be interpreted entirely subjectively.

For several years I have made paintings that evoke the most difficult symbol: death. It is the subject behind life that nobody wants to look at. The shadow that lingers in the corners of our consciousness, and for most, the unwelcome guest at the banquet of life.

My most recent painting took great effort emotionally, psychically and on canvas. It came in response to the deluge of horrific information that comes on the newscasts every day, especially with various wars raging in the world. In the painting, death is the ultimate victor, while all the combatants and other actors are decimated.

I usually don’t try and describe symbolism in my paintings . . . but in this instance I will:
Two spectral central figures are toasting with goblets of red wine, oblivious to the chaos and destruction raging around them. They are dressed in black, symbolizing the void, absence of light, mystery, mourning and perhaps comfort. Enigmatically they hold goblets of wine. Red wine represents celebration, opulence, strength, passion, love: it is the blood of life. The glass goblets represent the fragility of the vessel which holds life. 
In art, a skeleton is often used as a symbol of death and mortality. The Latin phrase "Memento Mori" translates to "Remember that you will die," and it's a reminder of the inevitability of death.  One skeleton wears a crown of roses representing the fleeting nature of beauty and life. Here, death is happily taking life that disappears forever. 
In the background are burning cities. Mankind is at war and masses of people are caught in the conflagrations of violence and destruction. They flail helplessly against fate. On the left, a terrorist holding an automatic weapon stands beside death. Bewildered people crowd together, not knowing if they live or die. Fists with swords sweep through the air, while other arms and hands reach toward the sky in anguish. A stunned man gazes next to a death figure on the right. There is no place of safety.
In the midst of death, between the two skeletal figures is a child, looking up in bewilderment. Even children are being swept into the void of death.

The painting came as a response to current events. Our current world is in travail with countless threats to the fabric of existence. 

As an artist, I pictured it. For now, and forever as testimony.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Keeper of the Key

"Keeper of the Key, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 70 cm

Amy´s newest painting from our studio in San Pedro Ixtlahuaca, Mexico, outside Oaxaca.
In her own words:

The seated figure holds a key that invites one to explore the inner self. Like Turtle, her Mother, she is still and yet clearly present. Her garment of blossoming beauty represents the bounty of La Madre Tierra and a tribute to growing things.
She is grounded as the result of life’s long journey. Like Mother Turtle, she waits and watches in silence. She, like ourselves, always will remain , the Ancient Child, born from life giving waters, the splendor of moonlight and the magical realms of spirit, of which…we ALL possess the key to journey within.
Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent reminds us that though we may be surrounded by forces we cannot comprehend…fear will not be our response. 

Many years ago, I wrote the text for a children’s book I called, “The Turtle’s Daughters”. I created it as a pageant piece for a grand elementary school event in St. Paul , Mn. The event was sponsored by Art Start/ Art Scraps of St. Paul, an amazing non profit that brings art experiences to underprivileged communities. Several artists were hired to  work within the schools to help the children create images and objects which would be part of our procession. On an overcast Saturday afternoon, over 1000 children and families participated along the banks of the mighty Mississippi river. We honored Turtle Island (Our Earth) and her lovely water daughters, the great rivers of our planet. I read my story, accompanied by a Native American elder who softly played his flute, which mesmerized the atmosphere allowing the story to come alive.

Children of many cultures from several city schools came together to march with their creations in a marvelous parade. Some performed my tale as a dance, complete with a moving gossamer blue river made from yards of fabric. Many groups carried handmade animal banners, large painted cardboard deer and buffalo. Children carried puppets: flocks of papier-maché  birds, turtles , frogs, and many more creatures. 

Our purpose? A call to grownups to wake up, see, and acknowledge that “progress and profit” should NOT be our main goal, as human “Beings.” Together, we must work as one to protect the fragile beauty of Turtle Island, and of those of fur, feather, and fin, who have no voice…  whose survival also depends on the well being of our sacred planet.  

The students answered my call that day. They became “Child Warriors of the Healing Earth”. Although, I never submitted my story for publication, I have never forgotten the power and beauty of that somewhat rainy day moment in time.

Nothing could have stopped us.

The memory lives with me still. Every now and then, I add another voice through my imagery to make that story live on.

Bendito Sea

For more artwork: Amy Córdova Boone


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Plants Communicate

Our little garden is teaching me. It talks and I listen and hear. Plants communicate.

For years I cultivated the earth where I lived. Then, after the death of my oldest daughter, Naomi, I lost interest in many things, divorced, and began years of traveling alone. I did not feel attached to places or things. 

Now, only in the last two years have I begun gardening again—albeit on a small scale. Amy and I share the enjoyment.

The goal in gardening is to bring a plant to fruition. That may be for flowers, vegetables or fruit. Some public gardens are decorative, with full time staff and entry fees, others are on family farms. 

I have begun longing for a life where most of my time is spent communing with nature. Cultivating, listening, then responding appropriately.

Unless native and wild, plants need tender care from beginning to end. The soil must be fertile and able to hold moisture and convey nutrients to the roots that feed the stems, shoots and leaves. Proper light is necessary for photosynthesis. Too much sunlight and heat can damage some plants. A gardener has to watch carefully . . . the plants show what they need by the way they grow. 

Pumpkin growing on a vine

People need similar loving care from beginning to end. 

Like plants, people need from the beginning shelter from storm and drought, loving nutrients to the roots, appropriate sunlight of guidance and education, space and training . . . states of being that promote growth and fruition. Contrast that to conditions too often seen in our world of humanity; barren circumstances, neglect, no “sunlight”, pests and attackers. 

Our problems are mostly of our own making. 

Lettuce and spinach under shade tent

When will our society become the beautiful garden it is meant to be?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sign From Spirit

I usually say my obligatory prayers before bedtime. It is a Baha'i tradition to recite Allah'u'Abha, which means God is Most Glorious, ninety-five times at least once a day.

Yesterday was a full day and I was tired from preparing for a trip to do an art festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As I sat on a wood chair in my kitchen saying the phrase (as I have done forty years now), I was looking down and noticed a small black beetle at my feet that seemed  to appear out of nowhere, walking slowly as if feeling its way about. I was barefoot and watched it go to my foot. I finished the prayer, rose and went in my bedroom to fall sleep.

In the morning I dressed, and went for my Sunday ritual of getting the New York Times, coffee and pastry, then reading at a table in the cafe. Afterwards, I went to my spa to swim.

After taking time in a steam room and swimming laps, I showered and was dressing in the locker room when, as I pulled my leg through my pant, I felt something—and out came the little beetle. It hit the floor with a click of its shell. I was surprised and amused. It walked along the edge of the locker room wall and stopped. I finished dressing, then bent low to scoop the critter up. It was not moving and I thought, "Must be praying for guidance." It tried to crawl away from my grasping fingers but I got it in my palm and closed around it. As I walked outside I felt the creature moving in my hand, but did not let it go until I reached a lilac shrub where I set it free.

I think the beetle appeared because of prayer and being a sign from spirit. It is a spirit guide harboring a message for me and encouraging me on my path. I am on the verge of transformation and also traveling.

"As a symbol of the spirit, the beetle carries messages that bring our attention to renewal, spiritual maturity, and the powerful influences of the invisible side of life." See: beetle symbolism

Sunday, December 25, 2016


Two women came into my gallery recently, went straight to a new work and then stood in front of it talking. It was as if a conversation was occurring that included the artwork. In the picture, a loosely defined person is seen walking toward us in relaxed manner. He is dressed in a robe that could have been worn a thousand years ago. We cannot tell where he is for the details are blurred. He seems surrounded by light that illumines an otherwise dark scene. Golden rays seem to fall upon him from on high. Illumination surrounds his head.
“What does that remind you of?” asked one woman to her friend. “Yes, I know, “ answered the other. “Footsteps.”

 Just then another woman walked in, and was asked, “What does it remind you of?” “Footsteps,” she answered.

I talked with the ladies a while and explained that the piece is a photo I took in the Himalaya Mountain region of Kashmir. I was coming down from a trek late in the afternoon and as my car with driver passed this fellow, I turned around, leaned out the window and snapped his picture. It had been a remarkable day and this moment was part of it.
I sold a print of the original to one of the ladies and learned that “Footsteps” is a poem, formally called Footsteps In The Sand, without a known author. I read it years ago but had forgot. Here is this poignant verse:

Footprints in the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
"Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You'd walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Grand Confusion

For the first time in 22 years I am single again. I pinch myself and realize that basically, I am the same. My values have not changed, I look the same, my voice is recognizable, and my studio phone rings as always. What are different are my obligations. I am not obliged by marriage. I feel freedom by being released, and also, my aloneness. Thinking about it, I realize for many in marriage, the obligation is a sweet imprisonment.
Jean came to my studio and got the divorce papers. We talked and as she was about to go, she looked at me and said “We are now officially ex’s.” We hugged, and as she turned to go, she cried a little. At least we are still deep friends. Certainly, there are many days ahead to celebrate together the good between us, and share it with the world.
I have been mentioning to friends that soon I will be selling my possessions and leaving to travel. Many fine discussions have ensued. The other day, voices from the spirit world added their note. When I awoke, I recalled a sentence I had just heard: “The vessel he entered was a grand confusion between his world, and the world outside him.” As it is with messages from the other world, these words, strewn together seemingly randomly, are powerful, mysterious, poetic, and also a puzzle. A vessel can be different things, like a blood vessel, but I take it to mean a ship, or large boat. Anyway it is a container for transport; something that allows for traveling. So, the transport is a grand confusion between inner and outer world. Thankfully, the word “grand” describes confusion. Grand can mean many things, but is quite positive in every respect. Synonyms are: impressive, fantastic, wonderful, enjoyable and memorable. Confusion has other connotations that are mildly negative. Like the state of being confused or perplexed. A chaotic or disordered state. Not thinking clearly or else unable to distinguish between people or things. The fact that the word “grand” comes before “confusion,” shifts the confusion positively. Also the vessel the person is entering is a grand confusion between the inner world and the outer. I like that, because it means the boundaries are falling into nothingness. What a crazy boat to embark in!
Readers, if you have any other thoughts on this dream sentence, please comment.