The etymology of a word often directs my art-making, especially when I am uncertain of a path. I’ll take a word, look at its origins, synonyms/antonyms, and my own mapping of the word. I ask, “How do I connect to it?”
Conceive. One of those words with a myriad of synonyms. Let’s look at Latin roots and its parts.
com=together + capere=take
This breakdown reminds me of a project I did a few years ago related to the word conspire, con=together with+spirare=breathe. These word origins jump back and forth together with the roots of conceive in my imagination, mixing into a stew of ideas that wrap themselves around and through each other into a mass that takes hold, becomes alive and breathes together. I’m considering this today on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, one of the most important Marian feasts in the Catholic Church, after reading this essay. I grew up going to mass on this day, and honoring Mary, the Mother of Christ.
Today I meditate on the idea of conception, I return to why I weave bird imagery into what I make. Here’s a bit of an artist statement about this:
My bird imagery relates to ideas of nesting and rebirth. I imagine the womb as a nest and an incubator for creative ideas, not just babies. I see it as a gestation place for learning, gaining strength and life. The nest/bird/baby/idea that seizes or takes hold there then must come out somehow–through song, creation, and birth. I then weave tree imagery, figurative imagery and other imagery with the bird to suggest different relationships. Sometimes it’s fear and darkness, which the forest often is. Sometimes it’s comfort and peace, which the forest also is, for example.
Rilke comes to mind too, here’s a piece from Rilke’s Book of Hours, translated by Anita Barrows and Johanna Macy:How surely gravity’s law, strong as an ocean current, takes hole of even the smallest thing and pulls it toward the heart of the world. Each think– each stone, blossom, child– is held in place, Only we, in our arrogance, push out beyond what we each belong to for some empty freedom. If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees. Instead we entangle ourselves in knots of our own making and struggle, lonely and confused. So, like children, we begin again to learn from the things, because they are in God’s heart; they have never left him. This is what the things can teach us; to fall, patiently to trust our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.
Trusting the heaviness, trusting in general, and being patient with that process is crucial for any of us to fly–to whatever it is that we need to be or do in our lives. This bounces back and forth in my brain as I create, hoping that I’m making the connections visually that will resonate for me and for others.
Find two of your favorite papers, you know the ones. Do something with them today. Let your choices be inspired by my blog post today, or another reading of your choice.
Everyday through December 25th, I’ll be making a 5×5 inch collage, writing a short entry on this blog and sharing a prompt for those who might want to participate along with me. You can follow my progress by subscribing to this blog through the sidebar on the blog homepage, or by following me on Instagram.