In Aristotle, the Greek philosopher’s, (384 BC – 322 BC), original writings, he spoke of there being four elements of which all matter was composed, earth, fire, air, and water. Depending on the substance, there would be varying degrees of each element contained, but those were the “building blocks” of how he perceived the composition of material. Diseases and ailments were caused by too much or lack of one or more of the elements, so the foundations of medical treatment in Europe and later in North America, was based on his writings. Some conditions indicated there was too much fire in a person’s body, so blood letting, which was associated with too much fire in the body due to its red color, was needed to alleviate the condition. Over zealous blood letting was purported to have caused the death of George Washington, the first president of the United States, so this belief was still in practice in the late 1700s.
Spirit, as an element, however, was not included in Aristotle’s original writings. It is however, included in many traditions, especially in earth based religions. Many belief systems, both ancient and modern, have the concept of a soul, spirit, energy, or similar “substance” existing in and moving through all living things. It is to honor those beliefs that I included Spirit as the fifth and last in this series of art quilts based on the Elements.
Since spirit was probably the most elusive concept for me in the creation of these quilts, I chose to give the piece a sense of magical, playful, joyful, and moving qualities. To create this impression, I used several hand beaded butterflies in the piece. For me, these delightful creatures appear to be some of the most joyful on the planet. Even their flight patterns, as they bounce up and down, appear happy to me. You can see two of these beaded butterflies on the left side of the detail shot below.
The crescent moon cutouts that appeared in the “Fire” piece were also included here to give a magical quality to the work. I still had a few of those clear “poof” buttons left that were used to represent feathers, jellyfish, puffs of smoke, and wisps of clouds in the previously posted quilts, so of course, I used them here to again focus on the magical look I was trying to create. (You can see one of them on the left margin, below the mid-line, in the detail shot and a number of them in the upper right of the full shot.) Lots of fabrics and buttons with bubbles or small circles on them were included to suggest effervescence. You can see rivers of black fabric with small, metallic magenta circles on them throughout the piece. (Those metallic circles melt when you iron them, which I learned the hard way! Fortunately, on a piece like this, buttons and beads cover LOTS of mistakes.)
The piece has a definite left and right side, which for me were used to designate the masculine and feminine dualities that are honored in many religions. Usually, the feminine side is on the left, while the masculine is on the right, which is what I intended to convey in this piece. However, my take is that there is some of both gender qualities in all of us, so I included elements that crossed the mid-line, to indicate that concept. There are also two crescents in the middle that are facing each other to further that idea regarding the union and honoring of the masculine and feminine aspects in all of us.
Spirit, no matter what your own belief in that concept is, has had a powerful influence on people’s interactions with each other throughout history. Perhaps the image of this piece as you reflect on it, will allow the Spirit that moves through all of us, bring you peace and harmony. At least that’s my wish for you.
Have you ever had an experience where you encountered spirit or energy beyond the usual explanations of science or beliefs? Was it a moment of encountering great beauty or a profound truth came into your realization? Why not share it with us, as we all grow when we learn from the experiences of others.
To see more of my beaded art quilts, please visit my web site at www.fiberfantasies.com