I planted a sunflower seed when I was 8 years old, along the side of our house. I was enchanted that the black and white streaked shell could be opened like a gate by the green sprout within. My father went on a sabbatical when the sunflower was still shorter than me, and we moved to Texas for the year. I came across letters from Mrs. Firth, our next door neighbor. I was worried about my sunflower, and had written to her, and she reassured me that it was fine. The growing plant is a wonder.
One evening I went with Stratoz when he needed to water his school garden, and there was a sunflower taller than he was. I took some pictures of it in full stature.
One of the first mandalas I ever made in mosaic was a sunflower, and to discover there were orange ones was a bonus. I return to sunflowers again, and admire their beautiful faces.
Growing up in Canada, November 11th was Remembrance Day, and we would have assembly in school, with a moment of silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, in remembrance for the men and women who have served, and continue to serve their country during times of war, conflict and peace. Growing up in the 1970’s made for some unusual assemblies. I remember both being chosen to recite John McCrae’s In Flanders’ Fields. McCrae was as a physician in WWI and wrote this poem about the red poppies that sprang up in the many fields in Flanders where soldiers were buried. For a moving reimagining of these fields, read Maureen Doallas’s poem What Girls in a Poppy Field Know, from her blog Writing Without Paper.
I also remember my grade 5 class sang Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush at assembly in 1977. We practiced for several weeks in the music room, which was a series of carpet covered steps, auditorium style, no chairs or desks, descending the lowest level, where the piano and our teacher would stand. We learned the song from listening to a recording of Neil Young, and I picked up on the mournful nature of the lyrics, especially this stanza:
I was lying in a burned out basement
With the full moon in my eyes.
I was hoping for replacement
When the sun burst thru the sky.
There was a band playing in my head
And I felt like getting high.
I was thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
Thinking about what a
Friend had said
I was hoping it was a lie.
I don’t recall what my teacher said about why we were singing this song on Remembrance Day, but looking back, the image of being in a burned out basement, and hoping for a replacement seems apt for evoking the desolation of war. I didn’t literally know what it meant to “get high”, but I understood the longing timbre in Young’s voice. I remembered this assembly when hearing Neil Young interviewed on Fresh Air about his new album Americana, and how American folk songs and protest songs ended up in schools cleaned up and deprived of some of their power. Young is Canadian, but drawn to these American tunes. I wonder what he’d think of one his songs in a school assembly.
Here’s a great version by Thom Yorke of Radiohead:
For the first time I will be participating in the Galaxy 2012 Art Show and Sale to benefit the Network of Victim Assistance(NOVA), Bucks County. A portion of the proceeds goes to the important work NOVA, which supports, counsels and empowers victims of sexual assault and other serious crimes in Bucks County and works to prevent and eliminate violence in society through advocacy, training, community education and prevention programs.
The Blue Path Spiral Mandala is one of the works I am including in the show, and resonates the vision of NOVA of a society free of violence, one that empowers individuals and promotes respect for the privacy, diversity and dignity of all people. May we all find the blue path that spirals into our hearts and brings us peace.
Galaxy 2012 – 19th Annual Art Show and Sale to Benefit Network of Victim Assistance
Dates: Thurs. Oct. 25 through Sun. Oct. 28
VIP Preview Party: Thurs. Oct. 25 – 5:00 to 8:00 pm, ticket needed – $35 per person
Fri. Oct. 26 – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sat. Oct. 27 – 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sun. Oct. 28 -10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Place: Bucks County Courthouse 3rd floor Rotunda, 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901
1. Rainbow in Bloom Mandala by Margaret Almon, 2. Crab Nebula Mandala by Wayne Stratz, 3. Red Orange Flower Mandala by Margaret Almon, 4. Red Tailed Rainbow Mandala by Margaret Almon, 5. Doodling with Scraps of Faithfulness by Wayne Stratz, 6. Helix Nebula Mandala by Margaret Almon, 7. Rainbow Starflower by Nutmeg Designs, 8. Shore Spiral by Margaret Almon, 9. Wernersville Wave Mandala by Wayne Stratz
In Spring of 2011, Stratoz thought we sold four mandalas, but it turned out the client wanted to hang them outside, and the ones she selected were not weatherproof, so she asked if we could make other ones for her that would be safe outdoors. In the Fall of 2012, we received an order for four more mandalas, and querying the client, discovered they were also for the bluestone wall along her sunporch, and made her another twin set. She told us our work brings beauty into her life, and we are more than glad to be able to do that. Stratoz’s suncatcher made it into the group as well, to hang at the end of the porch, already set for the outdoors. And finally, one of my Marzanne collaborations with Suzanne Halstead went to this client as well(for inside of course. . .) A fine collection of orange, highlighted with blue and the rainbow.
Stratoz took this photo of one of his Sophia Spiral’s hanging in his studio window, late afternoon, with the sun glowing through the center of Youghiogheny glass. Stained glass quickens with the light, and can catch us by surprise with colors we never saw before. I’ll let Stratoz describe what goes into a Sophia Spiral Mandala:
I call the piece, A Sophia Spiral Mandala, which doesn’t just happen to have 21 pieces of glass. It has 21 pieces of glass because the design came to be after spending time with Sophia and a passage (The Book of Wisdom, chapter 7) that includes her 21 attributes: 22 For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd,
23 irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits.
This week I decided to make a new mandala for our craft shows. I cut out four pieces of five types of blue green glass and than pulled out the Youghiogeny glass for the 21st. As I was writing a blurb to describe the mandala, it occurred to me what that 21st piece is. As we grow to know God in all images, we spiral into ourselves, and what we find is our true self. And there is nothing I can put in that location better than a piece of amazing glass from western Pennsylvania.
The Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopal in Lansdale commissioned me to make a mosaic in honor of a special member’s ordination: The Rev. Dr. Deborah Darlington, celebrating one year as an ordained Interfaith Minister. I know Deborah through Stratoz, who is also a member of Holy Trinity and Chief Social Media Dude for the congregation.
Deborah is a woman of many talents, as described at her site, TheSpaceForGrace, celebrant of marriages and commitment ceremonies, spiritual director and coach, and as Chief Inspiration Officer of InspirationInProgress, consulting with companies in the healthcare and hospitality industries to inspire service excellence.
It was a pleasure to create something inspired by Deborah’s spirit, in her favorite color, in the form of a mandala, which is a sacred circle in many traditions.