Year before last I was invited to join a group of 15-17 artists who were working on collaborative projects. I missed their first go-round and started in the middle of their current project - which is based on the concept of a Mandala. Each artist started with a piece - the first step of a work and then it passed to the next...and so on, until completion. You get about 6 weeks to work on each piece and towards the later part of the project, often you'd find that you had to pass on the piece when it got to you because it felt finished. Now we are having an exhibition of the series - and included in the show will be an individual mandala for each of us in our own style.
The above image was one of my first tries at the individual version...but what it had in symmetry, it lacked in meaning and I just couldn't continue with it. When you're working with a concept, it's important to not be too confined by the literalness of it, or how others have interpreted it. I decided to focus on the idea of four doorways imagining that it was something I could view from another angle.
This "room" felt right to me and I loved the dark shadows the front and back curves made on the sand...then came the real problem...perspective for the side curves! When I create constructed images one of the first things I do is draw out all of the perspective lines so I can see how to fit the new objects in from a single viewpoint. The problem was, how would the shadows work on the sides as they connected the front and back surfaces? If this had been a straight rectangle, I would have been fine...but it was the arches that really threw me.
After many attempts to figure it out...I gave up and went to the literal! Cutting out the arches from a photo, taping them together onto a white sheet of paper and sitting them in the sun to photograph how curved shadows moving towards a vanishing line actually look. Having the "maquette" really helped me understand how it worked. The shot I used was taken from a much lower angle to simulate the viewpoint from the photo.
This shot let me know how the shapes work, but the shadow would be way too long to fit into my photograph, so I placed the whole thing onto a large box and tilted the angle to shorten the shadow since I wasn't going to wait for the sun to rise to the correct height.
Finally, I started lowering the camera to get a better sense of how the perspective would change and flatten in my image.
For my final piece I'm still deciding how I want to crop it, whether or not to include the figure...but hey, I have until Friday to figure that out (yes, that's tomorrow). This weekend we install 17-20 works (some ended up evolving into multiple pieces) which should be quite the experience!
Join us the following weekend for the Opening Reception:
Saturday, May 9th, 5:00pm - 9:00pm
The Mandala Project
SCA Project Gallery
281 S. Thomas Street, #104
If you're on Facebook, here's the event page.