Saying It Well...

Khrystine's favorite quotes

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."— Mark Twain

Modern Muse

Modern Muse
Adriana Lima in Elle Magazine

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Assembled Art Project: The Wheel Goddess

Assembled Art Project: The Wheel Goddess

Art 1010

Khrystine Danielle Kelsey

Title: The Wheel Goddess

Genre: Collage

Date Completed: April 27, 2009

Materials: Computer scanner, photo editing programs, Microsoft paint, photographs. Photograph of Sharon Leal by Carter Smith, Allure Magazine, May 2009. “Muladhara” found at “Svadhisthana” found at “Manipura” found at “Anahata” drawn by Kelsey using Microsoft paint. “Vishudda” found at “Ajna” cut and pasted from copy of Smith photograph. “Sahasrara” found at

I have always been fascinated with collages as a form of borrowed art. Collage, like many forms of design (e.g. fashion, furniture, architecture) is art that is appropriated for ones own uses. The difference is that while these other elements may be as embellished or as purely functional as the artist desires, collage is always conscious of the desire to create a new artistic piece, with a message that may be completely different from the original artist. Especially considered in my re-interpretation of Carter Smith’s photograph was how technology affects art, the blending of East and West, and the prominence of the nude in art, especially the female nude in portraiture.

My basic purpose of this work was to show how modern women, and indeed women of all time represent the characteristics of the goddess-the female archetype that embodies fertility, transformation, and wisdom. The original Smith photograph (below) was, I believe, intended to show the same thing in a more straightforward “modern” sense. The compelling aspect is the mix of softness and strength. I however wanted to show that this is not just an aspect of the modern woman, and that we in our modern society are much less removed from the primeval, mysterious, and magical than we think.

It seems that much of western art from Impressionism to the present has been concerned with portraying the modern as something new, when really it is just the fact that we are here, and not our parents, that make this particular zeitgeist so exciting. This is not a criticism, we should feel this way. Nevertheless, the times we truly feel ourselves rock with the cradle of the world, there is an awareness of certain things that transcend time. Eastern art and philosophy, at least in places where it is allowed to flourish such as India, seem to have more awareness of this. Kundalini Yoga is an old practice that has gained popularity among people who ironically refer to themselves as “new age”. Kundalini is a meditation on various energy centers associated with various parts of the body and represented by chakras, a Sanskrit word that means wheels. (Hence the title, “Wheel Goddess”.) The ideal is that these wheels be spinning at all times, ensuring the correct flow of energy in all areas of ones life. I chose an object to represent each of the seven wheels, some based on tradition, some based on interpretation. I wanted to create a feel of modernity and antiquity by combining nature with vestiges of middle history and the modern metal curtains the model Sharon Leal is wrapped in.

I created most of “Wheel Goddess” on a computer. I believe there are those who question whether anything created through these means can really be called art, just as there were with photography at one time. I do not wish to discuss this in much detail, but it is interesting to note perhaps how much simpler it is to find the materials for a collage. However, it is not necessarily easy to do a collage this way, unlike with glossy magazine cutouts, the textures of the various photographs are not the same, neither are the quality of the photographs. This creates a weakness in that the collage is not as unified, has blocky sections, and is less organic than a traditional hands-on creation.

Leal is nude in the photograph. This is nothing new in art. Artists choose to portray women nude for many reasons. Sometimes it is simply part of the theme, such as a woman bathing. Sometimes it is to make the scene idyllic; the woman is innocently without her clothes, like a child might be after he escapes his mother trying to dress him when he has better things to do. It is also used to convey a sense of timelessness or eternity, as in my interpretation in this collage. For many it is an aesthetic celebration of the body (as in the original photograph), for some it verges on the scientific, and for pornographers it is intended to facilitate sexual climax. Despite the fact that they are not inherently erotic, many people are uncomfortable with nudes. Indeed, there may be a fine line between aesthetics and erotica, and erotica and pornography. Some may feel this line is thicker, some thinner. I have struggled with my own definitions, which I believe are important on a personal level. Smith’s photograph served my purposes of a timeless open, confident woman well, yet the original photograph is erotic, more so than the others in the series it came from, and I hesitated using it. Perhaps what bothers so many people about the nude in art is the projections of the artist on the subject. That is why aesthetic and erotic nudes (yes, even in photograph) don’t bother me, the subject is sharing of his (though usually her) self. Pornographic and scientific nudes both treat the subject as an object, to be examined or used. This is not my intention with “Wheel Goddess”. She is a powerful woman who transcends earthly trappings of clothes or the lack of them.


Jak said...

thsis really cool! except i can't see the collage- i really want to. you are so thoughtful- i wish i was that intelligent. you're essay is brilliant and well said.

Natalie said...

Amazing!! Love the essay!! But the collage isn't showing up on my computer... :-(