Year of Living the Community: Week 36


posting by Jana

candles on sculpture.jpeg

I've been involved in a four-part Coursera specialisation "Journey of the Universe: A Story for our Times" since September of last year. The course features ideas like the Great Work from Thomas Berry and the Journey of the Universe from Brian Swimme and Mary Evelyn Tucker. All the stuff that makes up the resource pool for this Community of the Cosmic Person initiative. 

Projects for the capstone course are due this weekend so I've been welding my little heart out. About a decade ago I figured out that (a) I can't draw (b) musical instruments take too much time to practice (c) I am basically abstract as a person so representational art is not going to be my thing. I discovered welding and the art of found-object sculpture...and knew immediately that this was a medium I could manage.

Consequently, my project for the Coursera capstone, in the "Media & Arts" track, is a found-object sculpture. Here's me going on about it:

Here is my explication for the course submission... hoping to inspire your next Ecozoic project! 

My project is in the category Media & Arts.

After this amazing course that conveyed so many ‘big ideas,’ I wanted to put words aside and let my intuition guide me with this project. My mode of artistic expression is found object sculpture; typically I weld metal pieces into abstract or representational forms.

My project was to create a found-object sculpture that interprets Berry’s idea of the Great Work – the shift in consciousness involved in human beings learning to be present to the planet in a mutually enhancing manner.

The concept of my piece is ‘Gateway to the Ecozoic.’ Using a gate as the ‘canvas’ represents the conscious, personal choice involved in moving from the Technozoic to the Ecozoic.

This project involved welding objects onto a metal gate purchased from a recycled building materials shop. Objects were collected from recycled building materials and also included natural objects and things I had around the house. The beeswax candles were the only new item I purchased. The focus on found objects represents a focus on alternative consumer practices: reduce, reuse, recycle!

The thing about found object sculpting is the iterative process between the ideas you start with and the objects you find which in turn reshape the ideas.

I knew I wanted to feature the elements. This turned into air (prayer flags, fabric strips); fire (candles); metal (most of the objects and the welding itself); wood (plants were included); water (yet to come); earth (planter pots).

I also wanted to feature play and celebration, two themes emphasized in the new universe story: colour (prayer flags, purple & green plants, red hooks), natural objects (shells, rock), interactive elements (chimes, washers to put on bolts, door handle to put into door plate, photo mobile).

Finally, I hoped to find ways to invite people to be fully present as they experience the object, incorporating as many of the five senses as possible: there’s an incense holder for smell; bok choy for taste; rocks and shells to pick up and touch; chimes to play for sound; photos for added visual interest. This represents how the idea that human beings are the universe reflecting on itself, which I find thrilling.

The creation process helped me focus and meditate on the themes of this course, and I hope that sharing this object with others will spark conversation about what it means to be ‘learning to be present to the planet in a mutually enhancing manner.’

Gateway to the Ecozoic - mixed media found object by Jana Norman

Gateway to the Ecozoic - mixed media found object by Jana Norman

key to the Gateway to the Ecozoic

key to the Gateway to the Ecozoic