Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Envisioning the Future Again

"Pomona Envisioning the Future", mural in Pomona, California (2003)
I've written about this mural before, which I see every spring when I'm in California,  but returning inspired from the Conference on Women and Mythology (see previous post) I cannot fail to see the synchronicity of the situation.  Truly, this painting, made by a community of 80 people,  embodies the essence of the conference I just is both a  prayer and an affirmation.   So once again, I'd like to share this remarkable work of art.  The Goddess works in mysterious ways.

Pomona Envisions the Future was created through Envisioning the Future (E.T.F), which took place in the Pomona Arts Colony from 2002 to 2004 and included over 80 artists. 

Pomona was the uniquely Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens, and  orchards, and her festival, which she shared with her husband Vertumnus, was always on August 13th. Pomona protects and brings forth fruit trees, and Her name is from the Latin pomum, fruit. ("Pomme" is the French word for "apple").  Pomona was among the Numina, guardian spirits of place in  Roman mythology.  "Numinous", the sense of the unique spirit of a place, derives from this term.  A grove sacred to her was called the Pomonal, located not far from Ostia, the ancient port of Rome. Although California's name itself derives from the name of an Amazon queen, "Califa", I would also say that Pomona is truly one of the patron goddesses of the state, which is the fruit basket of America. ("Califa"  may also derive originally from the name of Kali.  Since California has been such a huge agent for change in the world, seems kind of appropriate.........)

Circle of people envisioning the future

Pomona,  east of Los Angeles, was once was the citrus growing valley of Orange county. For many years it became a prime example of urban degredation - long gone are the orange groves, replaced by freeways, smog, crime, and a  derelict downtown.  But in 2005 I was stunned to see the Great Goddess Herself, at least 3 stories high, invoking change once again.

The painting depicts  Pomona from pre-European times, through Spanish settlement, the agricultural and industrial ages,  into a bright future which restores the land in balance with humans. One detail shows future  groves growing over composting heaps of industrial waste, and finally,  a circle of multi-cultural people sitting in council and learning to the right of the painting, envisioning a new world,  which is  overseen and inspired by the purple clad, numinous Roman Goddess.  

It begins by depicting the pre-European landscape with the indigenous Tongva people in a sepia color palette. The image of a by-gone open landscape rounds the corner and transitions into the historic past of rolling hills and open land erased and replaced by the familiar citrus groves established by the first European settlers.

"The color palette remains a restrained monochromatic blue-green. The muted colors signal the coming Industrial Revolution and environmental "dark days" to come. The decline of the citrus industry is represented by dead citrus trees that stop abruptly with the landscape at the twenty-four foot figure of the Goddess Pomona.  The Goddess's arms are outstretched as doves leave her hands in flight towards a hopeful future.
Early farm laborers

The background behind the Goddess figure is turbulent and murky.  Landscape turns to a congested sprawl of industrial pollution and over-crowded housing tracts. As the narrative moves to the right, mountains and blue sky re-emerge from a bleak present moment, revealing the misty outskirts of a glowing city at the very portal of a new age. In the foreground is a school of the future.

Students are seated on a luminous ring or "learning circle" which hovers over serene and lush rolling hills in an environment that has been restored. In the distance is a vision which is millions of years away from the actual event, the galaxy Andromeda  seen in the morning sky as it approaches our own Milky Way.  Throughout the mural along the bottom is an undulating wave representing subterranean strata. The wave contains artifacts and objects that represent the ages up to a time where the human species has finally achieved balanced health and harmony, along with a wholistic vision of the future which encompasses the universe."

**The Envisioning the Future project was lead by artist Judy Chicago, photographer Donald Woodman and Cal Poly Pomona. The mural was painted by lead artist and mural project facilitator Kevin Stewart-Magee, and Envisioning the Future artists/participants Lief Frederick, Sandra Gallegos, Cori Griffin-Ruiz, Rupert Hernandez, Lynne Kumra, Yolanda Londono, Amy Runyen, Chris Toovey, Mary Kay Wilson, Erin Campbell, Athena Hahn, Joy McAllister and Fred Stewart-Magee. Artists Magu (Gilbert Luján) and Judy Baca consulted on the project. The mural is located at the intersection of Thomas and Second Streets in downtown Pomona, California in the Pomona Arts Colony.


Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Wow, this is stunning. I've never been to Pomona, didn't know this existed. What a feat, 80 artists with the same vision!

Unknown said...

Not mentioned in the article, is the sax player. A resident of Pomona, his name was Renard Luke, who passed away in April of 2005.

He was an incredible musician, who impressed and was loved by many, many people.

He toured the US and Europe, and was one of those unique characters that is one in a million.

It was so nice he was included in this fantastic piece of art....a great tribute to a true artist.

Lauren Raine said...

Thank you! Synchronistically (and this blog is so full of the synchronistic threads of Spiderwoman) I have just returned from Pomona, where as always I make my little pilgrimage to this beautiful and important mural. There is still so much power and hope it in it.