Symbols in Art

I’ve been reading Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol, so I’ve been thinking lately of symbols.  I’ve also been reading Joseph Campbell on myths.  In the past, I’ve always thought verbally – analogies, parables, myths – all these are written symbols.  Words were the tools I tried to use to express myself. 

Never before did I realize how powerful visual symbols can be and how rewarding it can be to express oneself visually.  I found it to be a much different and profound expression.

That said, I don’t think I’ve quite got the hand of it yet.  Two nights ago, as I was immersed in The Lost Symbol, I decided to delve into my own experiment with symbology.  I found an image of a vintage-looking woman superimposed on the shadowy profile of a man.  You don’t have to be Isaac Newton to get that.  I glued that image in the center spot on my panel.  Then, I found a few more image of stereotypical damsels looking longingly for something they could not possess and affixed those around the central image.  I found an image of an audience and cut it into tiny pieces and scattered them around the whole piece — aren’t we always playing a role, us girls?

I added a few frilly images, and then affixed an image of Father Time.  It was a short leap from this to the brass clock charms for which I’d never figured out a place and glued three of them about the piece.  Who knew those little charms were biological clickers! 

The final piece was of chaos.  Perhaps I overdid.  My first festival is in a couple of days and I think I may have drained my creative well for the moment.  Still, I am reminded of an 8th grade English Class.  Mrs. Benningfield was teaching us about symbolism.  I wrote a story about a dog who had a special bone that he believed gave him special powers.  He carefully buried the bone so that he wouldn’t lose it.  He went about his life courageously, knowing that his powerful bone was in a safe place.  One day he went to dig the bone up, but it wasn’t there.  He had been courageous all on his own.  He didn’t need special powers.

Heavyhanded, yes.  But still a basically good message.  Hopefully I will develop more finesse with my visual images just as I gained a certain degree with my verbal symbology.  

May the force be with you.


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