Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Ancestral Midwifery 2009

This is a recent piece, actually cast from the hands of Lori, who I met last summer at Brushwood during the festivals. She is a midwife at the Midwife Center for Birth & Women's Health in Pittsburgh, Pa. Syncronistically, she was the second midwife I met last year who had impact on me, the first being Ilana, who I met in my Kripalu workshop. The gesture was Lori's, the piece evolved on its own. Birth canal.

A few people have commented that the piece is disturbingly visceral - well, I don't know how to respond to that. We are numbed daily with the media's gruesome "entertainments" , and the daily body count in Iraq, or Cleveland, or Darfur. (It says something about popular culture that Hanibal the cannibal has become a cultural movie icon, and sex seems to be endlessly associated with vampires).

And yet, the suggestion of a BIRTH CANAL makes viewers squeamish. Some have commented that it seems uncomfortably sexual. But where else, exactly, does birth come from? Except for the immaculate conception, most of us enter the embodied state in pain, blood, sweat, viscera. Giving birth is one of the most excruciating experiences a woman can have, and also the most ecstatic. I wonder if some of the reaction to this piece has to do with some deeply embedded cultural/religious associations with birth...........I think about the mythos that imposed an "immaculate conception" on Christianity, or the long, involved taboos found in earlier Jewish traditions in which women are considered "unclean" after giving birth, and have to go through long periods of "purification". If so, then the piece has succeeded, and I should figure out a way to make it much more disturbing!

Judy Chicago, from "The Birth Project"

Anyway, I reflect on the synchronicity of meeting two midwives who affected me deeply within a few months. I have often felt that certain archetypes rise up from the "collective unconscious", bubbling up from some non-local ground of being - perhaps, artists, shamans, and madmen notice them, bubbling into the universal dream. We are surely "midwiving" a new world, a new paradigm.

Personally, because syncronicities are something I think about, perhaps I am also "midwiving" my own life in some ways. Truth is, I'm ambivalent about about many things that once were so clear, if not outright assumptions. It think it was Plato who said "the more I know, the more I realize I don't know".

I would like to introduce here a related work by an emerging young artist, Tabor of New York City.

Untitled, 2009

Diving into abstract expressionism with unbridled passion, Tabor is notable for the energetic gestures of his paintings. Notice the use of very bold brush strokes to create an obscured "vestica piscis" form upon a vivid yellow ground......suggesting, perhaps, the emergence of diverse life forms from the black depths of a metaphorical "birth canal".

Here's a view of the artist's studio with the work in progress:

And the artist at home with his favorite model, Shari, his mother. Tabor (who just turned 2 and happens to be my grandson) is well on his way to a successful career in the arts.

The artist at work:

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