“Flower of the World” by D. M. Norsworthy

 

"Flower of the World." 13" diameter mandala wallpiece. Mixed media collage (paper, plant materials, glass) finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. $165.00. SOLD

 

The combined materials in this mandala present a reconciliation of sorts, a peaceful coming to terms with the crosscurrents of life.  The dried roses at the center are from a former husband (or, as I wrote on the box into which I packed them for the movers, “Dead roses from my ex-husband”).  They were beautiful to me, nonetheless, and since both he and I gained  much from our association with one another, it seemed good to keep them, and then use them (along with pieces of stems from those flowers) in this collage.  When a very special man appeared on the scene more than four years after the last roses, he loved to bring me tulips. I have learned that if one drops one’s preconceptions about what constitutes a lovely flower, the tulip possesses an individual winsomeness in every stage of its flowering and withering.  Therefore I used dried petals saved from flowers Steve brought me to form the middle circle of flowers, bringing flowers from the past and flowers from the present together.  I also incorporated the base of garlic stems (those whiteish discs surrounding the rose centerpiece) and pieces of broken glass (I think of it as “naturally” faceted glass, and often find it both interesting and beautiful) into the center of the collage.  

Radiating to the outer rim of the piece are the 31 lines of a poem I created for the work:

1 Why any flower may be
2 being but a day
3 a week
4 to die too soon.
5 But in the life of dying
6 quickly saying
7 what may be
8 fragrant
9 lovely 
10 reaching
11 seeding
12 softening edges
13 of the earth
14 to tell the wisdom:
15 ALL MUST CHANGE.
16 All changes,
17 all rolling to
18 Death rolling to
19 Life rolling on:
20 YOU, PAY ATTENTION!
21 In the dying
22 is beauty also
23 if you see.
24 Flower of the world
25 never bloom or fade
26 far from the rooms
27 where I, as you
28 go swiftly, softly
29 as we are
30 and will be and always
31 to never be taken back.

 

 

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“Makarios,” by D. M. Norsworthy

“Makarios,” is an ancient Greek word for happiness, connoting in particular the happiness of God.  This mandala is somehow, in my mind, emblematic of divine cheer, the revelling of a creator in his or her creation.  

"Makarios." 14" diameter mandala. Paper collage on recycled compact discs, finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. $350.00.

 

"Makarios." Detail.

“A Durable State of Joy”

 

Deborah Norsworthy:  Artist Statement

  First I am a writer.  My creation of mandalas, altered books, and mixed media assemblages grew out of that profession, and out of my practice of mosaic collage which has been evolving for more than a decade.  Practically speaking, materials and my enjoyment of experimentation inspire me to pursue particular projects. 

More profoundly, I am compelled by consistent conflicting energies in my personality, by my deep respect for the act of creation as a holy endeavor, and by the feeling of completeness and inner strength that come to me through the making of art.  I am a fierce champion and great appreciator of the handmade.  To personally create a piece that possesses its own original honesty and beauty takes me beyond the ephemeral experience of fun (indeed, the work is often tiring and tedious) to a more durable state of joy.

I work with materials salvaged and collected from nature, the street, demolition sites, thrift stores, and with papers I have salvaged or bought.  These materials include old art calendars and catalogues, used books, rusted metal, pressed flowers and leaves, roots, bark, sticks, beads, and unidentified interesting small objects.  My tools are scissors, pencil, eraser, art pens, ruler, tweezers, exacto knife, sewing needle, punching tool, knitting needles, pliers, screwdrivers, and a large heavy-duty stapler.  I also use a fair amount of white glue, PVA, craft glue, and polyurethane varnish.  The main part of my collage process involves a sophisticated development of the scissors-and-paste method I learned in kindergarten.  

I work at my dining room table which itself is a piece I collaged with small squares cut from art calendars, then gave five coats of polyurethane.  It is washable.

Rondo, by D. M. Norsworthy

 

"Rondo." 16" diameter mandala wallpiece. Mixed media (paper and plant material) collage finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. $350.00.

 

It seems miraculous to me when I suddenly see something (or someone) common to me in a new way.  This happened to me last year when I was preparing one of my favorite dishes for my friend, Judith, who was coming to lunch.  What I saw suddenly differently was an inedible byproduct of my food production I was about to throw in the trash.  I saw its natural beauty, both sides.  It is now incorporated (or one like it) into the mandala pictured above, which I have given the musical title, “Rondo.”   A rondo, incidentally, is an instrumental musical composition in which the leading theme is repeated alternately with other themes.  And of course the Italian word rondo does somewhat suggest the notion of roundness. 

The regular concentricity of the “Rondo” mandala, combined with the slight variations in the materials, highlight for me how commodities manufactured from natural materials–here, various papers–may through time, use, and exposure, gradually return to nature.  Much of the paper in “Rondo” had a musical use.  One readily recognizes the sheet music embellishing the scalloped border.  Less obvious is the origin of the paper used in the dark outer ring–paper salvaged from disintegrating sheaths that once protected vinyl 78 records in an album.  The paper, worn soft, was extremely absorbent of the varnish I applied at the end; I did not anticipate how much it would darken, but I liked the effect it created.  I also incorporated paper from an old, unused photo album, from a copy of The Oresteia by Aeschylus I found in a dumpster (I already had the play), and from a discarded menu from the restaurant Chino Latino in Minneapolis.  

The almost-finished collage, however, seemed to call for something more at its center.  I studied it a long time, considering various possibilities–freshwater pearls? a piece of glass?  a flat rusty bottle cap from my collection?  

"Rondo." Detail.

 

In the detail of Rondo (left), one may see what I settled upon–a centerpiece that blends without getting lost, that stands out as unique without being ostentatious, that is sufficiently–but not slavishly– symmetrical, and that appears, above all, natural.  That’s because it is.

But what is it? you may wonder.  Or do you know?

What I saved as a byproduct of food preparation, and have been saving ever since, was what remained of the stem of a knob of garlic.  Not all stems look like this one.  Some are smooth.  I find the other side, where the cloves of garlic attach, equally beautiful.  

The recipe, for Roasted Garlic au Gratin, is good too–if you like garlic (and maybe even if you don’t).  My friend Judith, for whom I have made the recipe maybe 10 or 12 times (every time she comes to lunch) once responded to my query that perhaps she would like me to make something different, with a sad-sounding, “What? No garlic?”  Below is the recipe, which is VERY amenable to experimentation.  Creativity is not just for art and artists, but for all of us, and all of life.

*******************

Roasted Garlic au Gratin

Use a small (6″ to 8″ in diameter) ceramic or glass oven-proof dish.  Pour in white or red wine and a little olive oil, enough to cover the bottom of the dish.  

Lay down a layer or two of fresh, whole, peeled garlic cloves. (I’ve used cloves from 4 or 5 or more full knobs of garlic.  As you ready the garlic, be sure to appreciate the beauty of the stems, regardless if you save or discard them.)  Then pour on more wine, maybe some half-and-half, and a little more olive oil.  If you want.

Mix with that pecans or slivered almonds, or other nuts you like.  Or forget the nuts if you don’t like nuts.  Sprinkle that with fresh or dried basil and/or a pinch of some other herb (oregano, dill, rosemary, marjoram, etc.), and a little brown sugar.  Top that with as much parmesan cheese as suits you. If you want to sprinkle on anything more–parmesan, wine, brown sugar, basil–go ahead.  I’ve also put in golden raisins on occasion.  Once I put in figs.  A few times I’ve added diced fresh tomatoes.

Cover with foil or a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 45 or 50 minutes, even an hour. This isn’t rocket science; it isn’t even cake chemistry.  Use your judgment and sense of your own taste (i.e., do you like your cheese dark and crispy, or do you want the whole thing to be pale and juicy?)  When it’s done the garlic cloves should be soft enough to spread.  This dish goes very well with roasted garlic and onion jam.  Serve with bread, pita, or crackers, or whatever else suits you.

The Holy Tree, by D. M. Norsworthy

 

 

"The Holy Tree" (mandala) by D. M. Norsworthy.  $350.00

16" diameter 2-dimensional wall piece. Mixed media: mosaic paper collage, scrap metal, twig, bonded to substrate of discarded cds, finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. Price: $350.00.

 

“Beloved, gaze in thine own heart/The holy tree is growing there.”   These lines, the first two from William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Two Trees,” appear handwritten on the face of the mandala. It is fitting, and not at all accidental, that I should incorporate these words into a piece of art, for ever since I discovered this poem in 1993, its wisdom has mentored me as an artist and human being. The mandala itself, in its process of becoming, was an exercise in “gazing in my own heart” and trusting what would come of that endeavor.

I created the central part of the mandala during a trip to New Orleans, using only materials I found there during my stay. Thus, the central part of the mandala incorporates a piece of metal I found on Julia Street, a twig, paper cut from a promotional brochure (including a programming grid), and even parts of a hotel napkin. A year later I incorporated the completed “New Orleans” collage into the larger mandala setting. The rays of the mandala stem from a center that is off-center.

People sometimes ask if I plan out a piece before executing it. Although I do often lay down some structure, such as the off-centerpoint from which the lines radiate in this mandala, when I create a piece of art I am involved from start to finish in a dialogue in which I frequently pull back, look at what I have already laid down, and decide how to proceed in response to that. Thus each piece of artwork evolves, but no two pieces in exactly the same way. Sometimes a piece turns out quite differently than I had expected or hoped, and it takes me awhile to get used to it. The balance of “The Holy Tree” is very informal compared to some of my other mandalas. But it is balanced, and I have come to appreciate its unexpectedness, the juxtapositions of its odd materials, and the quietness of its earth-color scheme enlivened by interjections of strong colors. There is something of my own personality that has come through in “The Holy Tree” and although I was initially surprised by it, I have grown to recognize the truth and validity of what it presents.

Below is the first stanza of “The Two Trees,” by William Butler Yeats:

“Beloved, gaze in thine own heart,
The holy tree is growing there;
From joy the holy branches start,
And all the trembling flowers they bear.
The changing colours of its fruit
Have dowered the stars with merry light;
The surety of its hidden root
Has planted quiet in the night;
The shaking of its leafy head
Has given the waves their melody,
And made my lips and music wed,
Murmuring a wizard song for thee.
There the Loves a circle go,
The flaming circle of our days,
Gyring, spiring to and fro
In those great ignorant leafy ways;
Remembering all the shaken hair
And how the winged sandals dart,
Thine eyes grow full of tender care:
Beloved, gaze in thine own heart.”

Yeats goes on, in the second of the two stanzas, to offer the cautionary part of the poem, the negative of what he presented in the first stanza. Here, the first five lines of that stanza well-communicate the warning:

“Gaze no more in the bitter glass
The demons, with their subtle guile,
Lift up before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a little while;
For there a fatal image grows. . . .”

Here I have shared words that have helped me to live with increased peace, fulfillment, integrity, and creativity.

Yeats excerpts taken from The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats: A New Edition. Edited by Richard J. Finneran. (New York: Collier Books, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1989), pp. 48, 49.