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!

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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 ‘pierdras 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…

‘Pierdras 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

Ancient Openings/Aperturas Ancestrales

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I went to Lima, Peru in October, where I had a solo exhibition thru November 27 as part of the Bienal Internacional de Grabado (International Biennal of Printmaking) sponsored by ICPNA ( Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano). There were over 40 exhibitions as part of the Biennal over a 2 month period and represented artists from Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Spain, the U.S., Finland, France, Italy, Mexico and Peru.

In this exhibition at Galeria ICPNA San Miguel, I had the opportunity to exhibit early large-scale prints along with recent works.  I created most of these prints at KALA Institute in Berkeley, California in the early 1990’s, they represent the beginning of my exploration into symbolism as my primary artistic expression. My work continues along this line, and it was gratifying to see how seamlessly the work flowed.

All of the monotype prints draw from a universal visual language of primal forms created by early cultures and inspired by nature.  The circle speaks of unity, oneness, wholeness, the sun and the moon; the spiral reflects renewal, regeneration, evolution and growth; the oval or ‘vesical piscis’ is a symbol from sacred geometry that implies the womb, the seed, birth, and the beginning of life.  My intent over the last 20 years has been to create work that reflects the essence of these forms that can touch us on an intuitive level.

I visit sacred sites shrouded in mystery and imbued with the spirit of the ancients for inspiration. With each pilgrimage, I am drawn to the artifacts left behind by these early societies – sculptural details carved in stone, glyphs painted on cave walls, and designs found on pottery shards.  In each location, repetition is found in the form of archetypal symbols such as the circle and the spiral – universal symbols that according to Carl Jung evoke a deep and unconscious response.  Early on, I was drawn to Paleolithic and Neolithic sites where images of Mother Earth, the Divine Feminine, were revered.  (Among them: Newgrange in Ireland, The Temple of Knossos in Crete, and the caves in the south of France.)  My more recent visits to Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines, and Sillustani in Peru also reveal a deep reverence for nature, Spirit and the cycles of life. For me, each site represents a mystical opening, a passage to something greater than ourselves, beyond the human experience.

In the studio, bold symbols emerge from the inked plate in a somewhat stream-of-conscious manner, my head and heart filled with new material.  The monotype allows me a spontaneous approach and results in a one-of-a kind image. Scratching the plate with a drypoint tool, I create a textural surface suggesting primeval walls worn down by time.  A mystical and meditative quality references the ritual of sacred space while the curvilinear forms refer to the Divine Feminine.  Symbols create openings that can connect us to the past and to the spiritual realm. As I work the surface of the plate and access these ancient forms and markings, I feel an affinity with those who have come before me.

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The Ouroboros and the Eternal Return

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Ouroboros, ancient symbol

Ouroboros, monotype print, 30″ x 22″

In my Mazatlan studio, the Ouroboros rears her head and almost bites her tail.

The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol depicting the snake or serpent eating its own tail. There are many interpretations but in general it signifies Eternity or the never ending cycle – something constantly re-creating itself. Carl Jung named it the archetype of the human psyche. It is considered a symbol for introspection.  In Alchemy, it is infinity or wholeness.

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The Ouroboros has appeared in many cultures with the earliest siting in Egypt dating back to 1600BC. The Phonecians used it – then the Greeks who named the symbol, Ouroboros, which means devouring its tail. In Aztec mythology, Queztacoatl, was similarly depicted. More on the Ouroboros:  http://www.tokenrock.com/explain-ouroboros-70.html

 

The Ouroboros is closely connected to the circle and the spiral, two universal symbols that also point to wholeness and regeneration. These two symbols have been mainstays in my work over the years – but I had never used the Ouroboros until recently.

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What changed? After taking my group down to Oaxaca for the Oaxaca Art Vacation in July, I stayed for another week to soak in the city and the culture. I saw several works of art utilizing the Ouroboros symbol. I bought a watercolor by Hector Hernandez – a very simple cobalt blue rendition painted over some sheet music. I had recently done a series using sheet music as chine colle in my monoprints – so that caught my attention. I had admired this artist’s work over the years.

 

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On a tour of printmaking workshops in Oaxaca, the Ouroboros pops up again in this gorgeous large-scale woodcut entwined with figures.

As an artist, I draw my inspiration from ancient art to contemporary works. Whose to say what and where will get the juices flowing….We all have our on voice, our own style and way of working with the imagery at hand.

 

 

Friday Art Post

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A Painting Commission Ready to Fly

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This is a commission that I worked on last season in Mazatlan – It’s ready to hang!

“Two in Flight”, A triptych, oil on canvas, 20″ x 60″.

A commission is always a challenge – with certain parameters such as size, colors and imagery – which of course I wouldn’t take on if it didn’t fit into my already established style.  I enjoyed this one, and expect it to look fantastic in the intended home. Gracias, amiga for the opportunity! See you back in Mazatlan when we will hang your new work of art.

Uxmal – Visiting a Mayan Treasure in the Yucatan

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Pyramid of the Magician

I had the good fortune to visit the the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal last February.  Excaping the craziness of Mazatlan’s Carnaval was a prime motivation, but landing in the Yucatan wasn’t a bad choice.  Uxmal is located outside the city of Merida, Mexico and doesn’t get near the number of visitors that Chichen Itza receives each day, 2000 vs 20,000 I was told. (I had visited Chichen Itza many years before.)  Plus, the day we visited it was overcast and rainy which also kept the numbers down and so a very pleasant experience.

Walking the site was a visual delight. My eyes filled with this ancient architecture, my feet following in the footsteps of the ancestors. I crept inside a hidden space and sat for a moment, alone, soaking up the silence, overcome by the spirit of place. I was particularly drawn to the stone carvings, the circles, spirals, etc., the same universal symbols found in ancient sites around the world. Looking through an artist’s eyes, I relish the forms and shapes, the details.  This is what makes an ancient civilization come alive for me.

Some say Uxmal dates to around 6th century AD, others claim it is much older. I’m not much for retaining the history, remembering the names of kings, who ruled when, etc. so if you would like to learn more, you can visit this site: ancient-origins.net

Back in my Mazatlan studio, I play around with the shapes, creating a series of small 7″ x 5″ monotypes (one of a kind prints) – Uxmal I, II, & III. I layer texture and color to achieve the look of an aged document. As an artist, I am open to letting things happen on the plate, synchronicity in the studio, stacking the glyphs, letting them order themselves, and in this case, pairing them with a vertical column.

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Contact me if you are interested in my work or process. www.glenrogersart.com

10 Guidelines for Visiting a Sacred Site

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Ollantaytambo Ruins, Sacred Valley, Peru

  1. Ask permission to enter from the Ancestors, Mother Earth, Spirit of Place and give gratitude for the opportunity.
  2. Enter quietly, with reverence and respect.
  3. Allow yourself to be in the moment and feel the essence of this sacred site.
  4. Be aware of the organization of space and its connection to nature.
  5. Try to imagine the daily lives and rituals of the people who inhabited this ancient place and picture yourself among them. Let your imagination flow….
  6. Connect with the mystery and spirit hidden within these walls. “If these stones could speak…”
  7. Remember the sounds, colors, textures, structures, and feelings you experienced.
  8. Choose a comfortable place off the beaten path and sit quietly.
  9. Do a silent meditation, some yoga or tai chi.
  10. Write down your observations in a journal, or sketch with pencil or watercolor.
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Glen at Ollantaytambo Ruins

Inspired by Travel: Peru

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Machu Picchu

As an artist, I have been traveling for over 25 years to gather inspiration for my art. (Thus my book, Art & Sacred Sites: Connecting with Spirit of Place). And now I realize – I am also inspired as a person, as a human on this planet. To go out in the world and meet people from other cultures, to see how they dress, how they live, how they make their money, how they spend their creative and leisure time – that is inspiring! Language is not always relevant – it is what we take in with our eyes and with our heart. To record the differences and the similarities – to acknowledge that we are all one.

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The group at Saqsayhuaman

 

On my recent trip to Peru I took a group of mainly artists on my first Peru Art Vacation.  We visited sites in the Sacred Valley where we walked in the footsteps of the ancients – sites such as Saqsayhuaman, Moray, Ollantaytambo, and ofcourse – the jewel in the crown – Machu Picchu. Each day we were awed with a new site.

We finished up with 5 days in Lima, a wonderful metropolitan city bustling with art and culture.  We funneled our new inspiration into creating monotype prints at Taller TRESS, one of a kind images painted with ink on an acrylic plate and transferred to paper with the use of the etching press. Thank you Lara, Sue, Lorraine, Sissel, Synnøve, Dan, Veronica, Carol and Judy for your love of adventure and great spirits!

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At Taller TRESS, Lima

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

I will be organizing another Peru Art Vacation for May 2017. Contact me if you are interested. Space is limited to 10 people.  glen@glenrogersart.com