Morocco – An Artist Residency To Remember

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In September I did a two week artist residency at Green Olive Arts in Tetouan, northern Morocco.  It is a beautiful city with a definite Spainish influence and pedestrian streets easy to manuever. I stayed at Riad Reducto, a lovely traditional hotel tucked away just inside the old medina. Walking thru the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a constant pleasure and was filled with beautiful handcrafts as well as vegetable stands, (lots of cats!) and everything for the locals. I didn’t expect to feel so at ease there but everyone was friendly and helpful.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as to the traditions of this Islamic nation – for example – if I would feel compelled to cover my head and dress more conservatively.  But I found that my usual jeans, t-shirts and sweaters were not only accepted but were the common attire for many of the younger set. The one thing I did find unnerving (and rather irritating) – the pedestrian streets were lined with cafes – just for men. In fact, it was hard to find places where women were welcome to have coffee or dine besides our hotel restaurant – which luckily was quite wonderful.

At Green Olive, I had a shared studio with plenty of light, a large worktable and a small etching press at my disposal. I chose to visit Morocco because I was intrigued by Moorish design, the textiles, the colors, the crafts, etc.  I had some ideas of what I would work on in the studio, but that totally changed once I got there. I’ve done a number of artist residencies over the years, and I always find that something shifts in my artwork – whether it’s the use of color, the change in imagery, or new inspiration from the surroundings. When you are working in a new environment, you can’t predict how you will be influenced and the work you produce. I love that!

 

Archetypal symbols have been the main focus of my work for the past twenty-five years so it was a surprise to me that my work shifted to the figure while there. As a woman artist brought up in the Western World (and a feminist), I couldn’t help but be affected by seeing the Islamic women covering their heads and bodies with scarves and djellabas (like caftans).  There was a certain anonymity created that intrigued me. I held no judgement, but rather a curiosity about my Moroccan sisters. Working at the etching press, a series of monotype prints (one of a kind images) entitled Anonymous in Morocco evolved.

I also created an artist book – inspired by the sacred geometry, symbols, and decorative arts in Morocco. I collaborated with a local leather maestro to create the leather covers. The finishing touch was to write inspirational sayings and quotes that are dear to me. This book will be a lasting momento of my time in Morocco.

The staff at GOA were all very accommodating and helpful. Rachel, one of the directors, took us on a tour of the School of Art & Design where young people were being taught traditional techniques of Islamic architecture & design; wood, plaster, textiles, embroidery, wood inlay, metal work, leather, etc. It was wonderful to see these traditional crafts in the making and to know that they will continue with the next generation.

I also offered a free monotype workshop to local artists with the blessing of the GOA staff.  It was fun to share my processes and passion for printing – and make new friends at the same time.

Part of going to an Artist Residency is meeting other artists and learning about their lives and processes.  My friend Jan Davis from San Miguel traveled with me, and was there working on her stories about previous experiences in Morocco as well as prints and textile work. Scott Ponemone did large-scale watercolors of Moroccan locals. Holly Woodward created artist books with her creative style calligraphy. Sara Gross, a ceramic artist, was about to begin as we were leaving. We also met local artists who, although we didn’t always share a common language, we did share a love of art.

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Inspired by The Lotus – A Symbol of Renewal

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Golden Lotus Triptych

“Golden Lotus”, triptych, 17 ¾” x 41”, Oil on panel with gold leaf, , 2018

Some say the origin of all art is spiritual; it was a way for early humans to commune with a higher and unseen power through mark-making.  Many ancient cultures embraced the lotus as a powerful image and spiritual symbol. The Egyptians used it in their art and architecture to symbolize rebirth and regeneration. They considered it a sacred flower and used it in rituals, ceremonies and medicines for its restorative qualities. In the Kamasutra, an ancient Hindu text about human sexuality, the lotus is a symbol of the source from which all life arises.

My spiritual journey has coincided with my infatuation with the lotus. It was in Bali that I first saw the pink lotus in its full glory—the most sacred color of the lotus flowers. Floating on a small pond, the lotus blossoms in various stages of unfolding captured my heart. This had a profound effect on me, as if I was seeing the Buddha himself reincarnated. In both Buddhism and Hinduism, the lotus is a sacred flower and refers to spiritual awakening and purity of heart. It’s the cycle of the lotus that provides the metaphor for rebirth—with the bud emerging from muddy waters each morning and gradually opening with perfectly clean petals. Each lotus bud represents potential, and with the fully formed blossom comes Nirvana. In my meditations, the image of the lotus unfolding is my heart opening to Spirit.

Golden Lotus

Golden Lotus, 42” x 53”, Monotype, 2013

The image of the lotus continues to be popular in our contemporary culture. Graphic logos offering tranquility and peace can be found on candles, yoga mats and clothing. The simplicity of form and power of idea elicits a universal message.

Incorporating the lotus into my artwork is meant as a spiritual metaphor, not just the image of a beautiful flower. Using simple graphic strokes, I try to capture the hidden aura of the plant and reveal an ethereal side of nature. Carl G. Jung said that the symbol (any symbol) is the psychological mechanism for transforming energy. Through this simple form, I attempt to transform a blank canvas into something mystical, giving the viewer a spiritual connection through my art.

Allegory of the Spirit

Allegory of the Spirit, 56” x 56”, Oil on canvas, 2016

Jung in his book, Man and His Symbols, referred to certain symbols as archetypal—images that all of us can tap into through our unconscious mind, dream states and the creative process. He believed that “the greatest and best thoughts of man shape themselves upon primordial images,” and that archetypes—symbols from the collective unconscious – are metaphysical in nature. On my travels to sacred sites around the world, I learned firsthand that there truly is a universal visual language that connects us all.

Floating Lotus I

Floating Lotus I, 27” x 27”, Oil on canvas with gold leaf, 2015, Collection of Dana Amarisa

This text is an excerpt from my upcoming book, Symbols of the Spirit: A Meditative Journey Through Art due to be published in January.

Contact me at: glen@glenrogersart.com to reserve your copy.

The Vessel, The Chalice, The Cauldron An ode to the Divine Feminine

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The Chalice

The Chalice, Oil on Canvas, 40″ x 34″

The vessel, a simple utilitarian object, is layeredwith metaphorical meaning.  At its essence, the vessel is a symbol for the human body – specifically the female body, which carries and nurtures the child within. Mimicking a pregnant woman, the vessel bulges out at the center into a curvilinear shape. In pagan societies, the cauldron was a symbol for the womb of the Great Goddess and offered the power of rebirth.

The famous Chalice, some scholars believe, was actually Mary Magdalene, the sacred vessel that held the Christ child. According to Barbara G. Walker in her book, The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power, the vessel was the source of life, wisdom and inspiration in pagan religions. At its most primal level, it is a sacred container that will forever be connected with magic and the act of creation.

Even the simplest hand-made pot can transcend the ordinary and reflect the spirit of those who came before us. I gather these images around me and draw from them in the studio. The shape emerges and becomes the focal point of a painting or print often filled with a liquid golden light signifying its sacred nature.

Excerpts from my upcoming book, Symbols of the Spirit, A Meditative Journey Through Art.

www.glenrogersart.com

 

The Circle – Symbol of Wholeness

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Glen Rogers, ‘Ancient Circle’, 12″ x 9″, Monotype Print w xerox transfer, 

Looking up at the sky, one can see two great circles, the sun and the moon. Here I find inspiration to create art using the most universal of shapes. The Circle is an archetypal symbol of wholeness and unity. Its roundness implies the feminine as the straight line does the masculine. This geometric shape, formed by a curving, never-ending line, creates a closed space which speaks of protection and inclusiveness.  It is the simplest form, yet the strongest because it has no corners, no weak points.  Circles pull me towards them with their promise of protection, like the warm embrace of a mother.

In the studio I am open to an intuitive approach to creating art – going with the flow and being open to the possibilities. Often, a circle appears as I apply the ink to a plate and begin a new monotype print. Inspired by the circles of old, I use them as a point of departure to weave my own tale. (Here I’ve used a xerox transfer process to integrate the old stone circles from El Mesquita, in Cordoba, Spain).

Black Elk, an Oglala Sioux Holy Man, said it best:

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round… The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.”

 

Architectural Details from Spain Inspire My Newest Paintings

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On my travels, I am always keeping an eye out for symbols – archetypal symbols inspired by nature and integrated into ancient sites and architectural details.  I zero in on stone carvings found at Neolithic sites of Europe or at the Pyramidal sites such as Uxmal or Monte Alban in Mexico. Working with these universal symbols like the circle and the seed inspires my art and provides me with a spiritual and artistic anchor.

In general, visiting churches in Europe or Mexico is not my ‘thing’.  I prefer the ancient sites.  Ofcourse there are exceptions, I visited the Familia Sagrada in Barcelona and El Mesquita – a combination Mosque/Cathedral in Cordoba, Spain.  I was drawn to the architectural details carved into stone.  I photographed them and brought them back to the studio to use as inspiration for my artwork.

This detail from the facade of the Seville Cathedral, inspired a new painting. I appropriated the basic form and added my own style. Emphasizing the seed, the flower, the roots – all speak of renewal and regeneration – new life. Below is ‘Primavera’, 40″ x 34″, Oil on Canvas.

Below is an sculptural detail on display inside El Mesquita, in Cordoba, Spain. The resulting painting is “Lunar Phases”, Oil on Canvas, 40″ x 34″. As you can see, I use the photograph as a point of departure – then let the creative juices flow.

By focusing on these simple forms, my goal is to transcend the ordinary and to evoke a mystical connection to something greater than myself, beyond my everyday reality.

“A Room of One’s Own”

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The famous line by Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own”, has always struck a chord with me. The quote comes from a series of essays she wrote in 1928 about carving out a space for oneself – both literal and figurative. It was later adopted as a feminist statement in the 60’s and 70’s.  I translated this ‘room’ as a creative space, a refuge – a studio for the artist. As a young woman coming of age in the 70’s, it was important for me to have just that.

I claimed my first studio while still an undergraduate student at University of Florida. This was a shared space with some photographers, a rather bohemian situation. And even though money was hard to come by, living in student poverty as I was, somehow I found a way.  I needed this creative space away from academia, boyfriends, and other distractions. I was in the process of defining myself as an artist and making that declaration to the world. To have a studio, ‘a room of one’s own’, was a commitment.

When I moved to California in 1979, I got a job right away as a graphic artist fulfilling my financial obligations.  But needing to feed my artist side as well, I answered an ad in Artweek magazine for a studio partner in a printmaking studio in San Jose. Betty and I had a successful partnership sharing a studio for almost 20 years. We moved studio and presses twice – from a converted 2 car garage in Campbell to the Citadel, an old cannery warehouse on 10th and Taylor, and later to the “new” Citadel on 5th and Martha. Having a studio helped define me as a serious artist in the community.

I later moved to Oakland and developed a studio there as well – but not for long, as my heart was pulled in another direction – Mexico.  In 1999, I bought a small house in Mazatlán’s Centro Historico (for $27,000usd!) and soon after, built a studio on the 2nd floor. This was going to be my ‘studio abroad’ – my dream, my pie in the sky.   I had envisioned South of France or Italy, but after one visit to Mazatlán, I was hooked.  This beautiful city on the Sea of Cortez had just what I was looking for and was to be my haven away from the maddening crowds (and traffic!) of the San Francisco Bay Area.  It didn’t take long, less than 2 years, to move there full time and create my dream life.

Fast forward to 2018.  I am in San Miguel de Allende and just built a 3rd floor studio with plenty of natural light, space for painting, printmaking and workshops. Here, I am in a city known for its arts community and gallery scene – and an opportunity to introduce my work to a new market.  Call it the 17year itch – I was definitely ready for a change.

I have always considered an artist’s studio as sacred space – a place to grow, create, and thrive as an artist.

Glen at the Old Citadel

Glen at the Citadel in San Jose, CA, 1980’s

Glen doing a monotype

My 2nd studio in Mazatlan, 2007(?)

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My new studio in San Miguel de Allende

Plastic Madness – An Artist’s Response to a global crisis

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As an artist, my work is inspired by visiting sacred sites around the world and connecting with the spirit of place. I honor our ancestors and am enthralled by the symbols they left behind on rock walls and pottery shards.  I borrow from a universal language – like the spiral that speaks of renewal and the circle that speaks of wholeness, as well as forms from nature found in cultures around the world. My work comes from a personal place and has a mystical and meditative quality.

I have lived in Mazatlan, Mexico – a little slice of Paradise on the Sea of Cortez- for 17 years. I love walking the beach or down the Malecon – 7 miles of ocean-front sidewalk.  But something has disturbed my tranquil walks – more and more plastic – shopping bags, straws, bottles, caps, styrofoam, etc. is in my path. Sadly, my walks have become more of a garbage pick-up excursion. And I have begun to learn more about the bigger problem with plastic in our world via the internet:

  • An estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic are currently in the oceans, a third of which is concentrated in the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch – possibly twice the size of the United States!

I am not a political artist, but I do hold Mother Earth sacred, so how can I ignore her call for help?  Plastic is one of the biggest threats to our planet clogging our neighborhoods, highways, soil, beaches and oceans.  Ocean plastic pollution is killing more than 100,000 marine animals and birds each year. World-wide plastic production is increasing dramatically and every year we produce approximately 300 million tons of plastics. Plastic doesn’t decompose, it never goes away. We humans are negatively affected as the toxic chemicals in plastics are contaminating our bodies by entering our food chain and our water supply.

I decided to take action on the home front and also to take steps to bring the plastic crisis in focus. Here are some things I’ve done:

  • Recycle what I use at home and on the streets and beaches (not easy in Mazatlan because there is no city-wide recycling program)
  • Refuse plastic bags and straws at shops and stores (In Mexico, they give them out like candy!) “sin popote, por favor”
  • Re-use plastic bags, cups, etc that I have acquired
  • Take my refillable water bottle with me at home and on my travels
  • Created an anti-plastic logo and had some fabric shopping bags made that fold up and fit into a purse or back pocket as give-aways and gifts.
  • Started a Facebook page to disperse info found on the internet and to raise awareness to the plastic problem  (Campaña-Anti-Plástico-de-Mazatlan)
  • Created an informational hand-out to give out in both English and Spanish
  • Speak up to vendors, friends, and family to encourage them to also give up single-use plastic
  • And most importantly:                                                                                                  Curated an International Art Exhibition, Plastic Madness / Locura del Plastico inviting over 25 Mexican and U.S. artists to create artworks from plastic found in their daily paths.  This exhibition, with unique and compelling works of art, was shown at the Angela Peralta Gallery in Mazatlan to rave reviews, then at the OMA Galeria at the Mazatlan airport where it was viewed by hundred of visitors. (Many thanks to Dept. of Culture, Mazatlan and Claudia Gallardo, director of OMA Galeria.) The exhibition has now traveled to the U.S. and is currently being exhibited at San Jose City College (thru Nov 27, 2017). In this show, additional California artists were invited to join the Mexican artists uniting artists from these two countries in a common problem.  This show was co-curated by Katherine Levin-Lau and Deborah Kennedy. The next scheduled exhibition in the U.S. is Bluseed Studios and Gallery in Saranac Lake, NY in August 2018 where NY artists will be invited to participate.  (Carol Marie Vossler will co-curate the NY exhibition).  Additionally, a new Plastic Madness exhibition will be organized in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, February 2019.

VERY FINAL Card Plastic.pages

Some of the work from the Exhibitions:

I believe that Art has a unique ability to engage our senses and raise awareness to this global crisis!

Symbol Stones – From the Ancient Past to the Present

In the Sacred Valley of Peru, just outside of Cusco, I came upon a group of ‘piedras sagradas’, sacred stones from the Waro culture. Hidden away in the small WACA Museo, next to a modest Catholic Church, I recognized the powerful visual language with which they were inscribed.  Some were collected here as artifacts of a past culture, others had been appropriated by the Church, imbedded into the construction.  These symbols held deep meaning for the Andean culture and for me, even still, I could feel their power.

According to anthropologists from the area, Renato Davila Riqueline and Liliana Davila Jurado, the spiral represents the origin of life, renewal and evolution – a cosmic connection to Spirit.  The wavy lines represent the serpent, often with seven twists and turns representing the 7 levels of coming into being, the 7 chakras, the 7 colors of the rainbow, the 7 days of creation.  As in many ancient cultures around the world, the serpent represents renewal and regeneration, leaving its old skin behind, a new beginning or awakening.

Imbued with a certain magic and holding secrets from the past, we can try to retrace their meaning, yet the stones are silent and will remain a mystery.

Seeing these stones reminded me of a project I created in California, ‘Symbol Stones’ for Campbell Middle School back in the ’90’s.  This was part of an overall Art & Architecture project as part of the school’s renovation spearheaded by Bill Gould Design.  As the artist on the project, I worked with the students, introducing them to archetypal symbols from around the world. We then carved them into a dense foam, later to be cast in concrete.  A casting yard was set up on the campus, complete with cement mixer and 12″ x 12″ forms where the 7th and 8th grade students participated in casting the stones over a 6 month period.  At the completion of the campus, the symbol stones were imbedded as a border encircling the plaza.

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And so, I am still enthralled by ‘symbol stones’ and petroglyphs – images inscribed into stone by ancient cultures.  Now, in my studio, I am newly inspired by these stones from Peru and am working on some small panels in oil. I am creating more colorful renditions of my ‘finds’ and excited to have them come alive in a new way.  And more follows in this new series.  I hope the mystery and the magic finds its way into this new work…

‘Piedras Sagradas I, II, III’, Oil on Canvas, 14″ x 12″

click on each image for a larger view.

Contact me at: glen@glenrogersart.com for prices and more information.

Upcoming Peru Art Vacation – a few spaces left

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Machu Picchu

Dear Readers, The Peru Art Vacation, scheduled for May 8 – 19, 2017 is created for a small group – maximum 10 people.  This is truly an inspirational journey of art and sacred sites. The trip is almost full – with just a few spaces left. Contact me if you are interested: glen@glenrogersart.com

I have been taking groups on Art Vacations since 2009 to Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Mazatlan and most recently Peru.  I enjoy sharing my love of travel with my love of art, printmaking and the creative process.

Here is the itinerary:

  • We meet in Cusco, a beautiful Spanish colonial city with Incan sites, textiles and local crafts.
  • We take the Vista Dome Train to Machu Picchu and spend 2 nights in the village of Agua Calientes.
  • At Machu Picchu we will start with a special Sunrise Ceremony for our group with a local spiritual guide. We spend the rest of the day enjoying this spectacular Incan site.
  • In the Sacred Valley we tour Ollaytaytambo and other sites.
  • We spend 5 nights in the Barranco (arts district) of Lima, at Second Home Peru, a fabulous B&B overlooking the ocean and home of famous Lima artist Victor Delfín.
  • 4 day Monotype Workshop with Glen Rogers at Taller Tress Printmaking Studio in Lima.

The trip includes hotels (based on double occupancy), train, ground transportation, entrance fees to sites and workshop fee and materials. Price does not include international or domestic flights and meals except breakfast provided by hotels. Trip cost: $2600usd / $500usd deposit

(Option to go on the trip and not take the workshop for a reduced price) 

Beginner to Advanced. No previous printmaking/art experience required.

Here are a few testimonials from the 2016 Trip:

What a fabulous trip! Truly life changing!

     I loved the places that we stayed and Second Home Peru (in Lima) was so special. Christina and Rueben of Taller Tress were very welcoming and the studio well equipped.  

     Thank you for a great experience.  And thanks to everyone in the group for being such wonderful traveling companions. I can highly recommend this trip.                                        Sue Gilchrist, Santa Cruz, CA

 It was a pleasure and thank you so much for let me be a part of this adventure<3
Feeling happy and inspired back in my routine life:-) My head is full of ideas, and all I want is to print!   
Synnøve Krokstad, Norway

What an amazing trip! Thank you Glen Rogers for making this trip happen, for the printmaking at wonderful Cristina’s studio, for Machu Picchu, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Pisaq, and all the lovely people who came together to make this such a great experience.   Lara Speyer, San Francisco Bay Area                 

 

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Fragments from the Ancient World

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As an artist, I draw from the ancient world, collecting symbols carved into stone. I’m intrigued by the simplicity of form and the repetition of shapes such as the circle and spiral in sites around the world. By visiting sacred sites, I feel a connection with those who came before me and feel the spirit of place.

Here are some mixed media prints that I created recently using images from Uxmal, Monte Alban, and Las Labradas (Mexico). My photographs of these fragments were used to create solarplates, a non-toxic form of photo-printmaking. I then hand-wiped and printed the images on rice paper, running the plate through an etching press. The images were then used in the chine colle process – pasting down the thinner paper to a heavier print paper as I printed a monotype image at the same time. (Kind of like a collage).The monotype provides the textures and subtle tones that pull the image together.

These three prints, Ancient Fragment I, II, III, are featured in an exhibition at Baupres Gallery, Mazatlan, Mexico through the end of February.

 

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Ancient Fragment III

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Ancient Fragment II

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Ancient Fragment I

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Fragment from Uxmal