Soul Food Archive: Guest Caterer Specials
Harlem Renaissance Party (detail)
Story Quilt, © Faith Ringgold 1987*
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Guest Caterer Specials are side dishes that complement our main courses. The experiences of many spiritual seekers are forming a "cookbook for a sacred life" (Ram Dass’ phrase). Might some special delicacy from this potluck meal become a staple at your table?Please sample our current Main Courses menu, as well as our tasty Desserts & Snacks and earlier dishes in the Soul Food Archive. And, do send your personal comments to our busy kitchen staff. View others' comments here.
A contemplative goddess sits for a moment and gazes up through the temporal to the eternal. This is a small collage piece I created in the months following a Soul Collage class. It's a simple piece with only three images. The collage spoke to me of pausing, sitting inside the temple (C.G.Jung’s temenos †), quietly gazing up from the temporary to the eternal. Only later, I realized it evoked in me the same feeling one of my favorite quotes evokes:
Still, there are moments when one feels free from one's own identification with human limitations and inadequacies. At such moments, one imagines that one stands on some spot of a small
planet, gazing in amazement at the cold yet profoundly moving
beauty of the eternal, the unfathomable: life and death flow into
one, and there is neither evolution nor destiny; only being.
~ Albert Einstein
I have always worked with collage in one way or another, going back to childhood, and still have some early pieces of artwork. I use magazine images almost exclusively, and get great satisfaction from going through a stack of old magazines and cutting out the images. In a way, it’s the process of breaking up Order into its disparate parts and creating Chaos. The bits of Chaos are then rearranged into new patterns, creating new relationships and new Order. I find that using collage, as with all soul-art practices, moves me into a different emotional and spiritual place. It brings me to the temenos.
This collage was made in the summer of 2009; it sat where I could view it every morning as I got ready for work…and it just made me feel good. I didn’t know it then, but my life was in a period of transition, about to change: Chaos was about to descend. Within a few weeks of creating the collage, my job (my “dream” job) was eliminated. During the time that followed, I created more collages, using this art-form to help me express and process my difficult emotions. Once the process was completed, I felt more whole again—I had, indeed, taken Chaos, rearranged the bits, and returned to a new Order both within myself and in my outer world. I’m now moving into a new career, one of my own creation. Soul-tending using art is a wonderful way to get the conscious mind out of the way, so that the unconscious process of change and healing can take place.
[†Temenos is Greek for a sacred, protected space; it is descriptive of both a personal container and, also, the sense of privacy needed for inner psychological work. Carl Jung believed that one's need to establish a temenos is often indicated by drawings or dream images of enclosures, such as mandalas. See Jung's Collected Works, Vol.18; ¶410.]
Many thanks for sharing your experiences of the value of collage-making. We encourage others just beginning to create soul-artwork to go about it spontaneously, as you do, with no pre-judging the outcome of their efforts. Some results will be professional and beautiful, as is this work, and some will be very plain (as, for example, this small collage*), perhaps even childish or homely. But, as you state, it’s the process that’s important—you gave your inner wisdom a place to be expressed, and isn’t that the point when art (of any sort) is involved in soul-tending? You give us, also, a couple of other valuable clues: 1) Save (and date) artwork, and 2) After the psyche has sent such a message—sometimes called “a gift from the sea”—we can continue to live with it and let its effects take hold. Thank you so much! We look forward to hearing from other collagers (is that a word?). The Center Staff
Read Others' Comments...
"Hi, Center and Penny. Thanks for your artwork. The way you use the finished collage reminds me that a picture--ours or someone else's--can live on in our hearts long after the original picture may be gone. So, you can always have your contemplative companion with you--she came from inside, then emerged on paper, and is now even more part of you than before."
Thanks a lot, Brian K., Vancouver
Thank you, Brian, for your sharing your thoughts. You reminded me, too! Take care, Penny
* Credits for this page:
~ The quilts of American fiber artist Faith Ringgold hang in museums around the world. Harlem Renaissance Party, #2 in her "Bitternest Series," is in the collection of the National Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C. Acryllic on canvas, 94"x82", it pictures eleven guests and their exuberant, mask-holding hostess, Cee Cee. From lower left around the table, the guests are Celia (or Ceclia), a doctor; Florence Mills, singer and comedienne; Aaron Douglass, painter; Meta Warick Fuller, sculptor; W.E.B. DuBois, organizer and writer; Cee Cee's husband, a dentist; Richard Wright, writer; Countee Cullen, poet, novelist and playwright; Zora Neal Hurston; novelist, folklorist and anthropologist; Alain Locke, philosopher and writer; Langston Hughes, poet and writer. Gratefully used with permission. See more of Faith's work at www.faithringgold.com.
~ Penny Key’s title for her collage is "Seeing Through". She is a faculty member at The Art Institute of California--Los Angeles, where she teaches psychology and ethics. Penny also has a private practice as a psychotherapist in Santa Monica, CA and is a quilter, wife, and grandmother of two. Many ideas and materials for using collage in spiritual practice can be found at www.soulcollage.com.
~ Soul-card #11 from "Sacred Circles" series, B.C.Hedberg, © 2003; three pieces of one large image on a swirling background. While Penny’s mandala is intact, calm, and centered, these three slices of the same mandala seem confused about how to align. Like our Guest Caterer’s artwork, the collages in this series "made themselves."