Making Mandalas

From "The Gracious Circle." Gallery exhibit at the Jung Center of Houston, January 2011.

Making mandalas has taught me that it is good to be centered and it is needful to have boundaries.  Making mandalas has shown me how things grow.  I have seen that

1.  You must start from somewhere.  Anywhere.  Preferably the center.  But anywhere.  You  must start.

2.  It is perfect to be imperfect.  Even more, it is beautiful.

3.  What seems like not much in the beginning may add up to something good, even remarkable, in the end–if you persevere.

4.  It is not helpful to judge until a piece is finished.  And even then it is not good to judge too much.  Or maybe I should just go all the way and do as Jesus said:  “Judge not. . . .”

"Poesis Lyrica." 18" x 21" set mandala wallpiece. Paper collage on wood finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. $325.00.

5.  Repetition of the same simple thing may become beautiful.

6.  When you work from the center the piece maintains a measure of wholeness at every stage.  As the circle grows it becomes more complex and interesting it gains depth.

7.  Things that seem not to go together can go together if you let them and help them.  This is called integration.  There is integrity in that.

"Song of the Eye." 7.5" x 9.5" set mandala wallpiece. Paper collage on vinyl record, vintage book covers, and wood, finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. $125.00.

8.  Surprises stand out in the context of a consistent pattern.

9.  Many pieces go through an unattractive adolescent period.  Don’t give up.  Sometimes the ugliest adolescence develops into the most beautiful and unique maturity.

10.  Expectations and preconceptions are often unhelpful.  To create a piece that is alive one must be open to what it is and what it is becoming, and then help it to become that.

11.  Courage is essential to creation.

Here is a poem I found in a list of words I made out of letters of the word “refrigerator.”

To get fire:  rare.

To free fire:  rarer.

To err:  oft.

Tiger at gate:  go

Forge art or fear.

Great gift after grief.

—Deborah Norsworthy

"No One's Perfect." 13" diameter mandala wallpiece. Paper collage on discarded cd, ceramic charger plate, finished with polyurethane varnish. Hanger fixed on back. $165.00.

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“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.

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