Friday, March 9, 2012

Fearing emptiness

In college, I was required to take an archaeological laboratory methods course, in spite of having previous employment as an archaeolgy technician. Most of the course was simply review for me, but I also had the oppurtunity to view and handle a cast created from carvings of a Mayan temple.

The archaeologist teaching the course had convinced a local plastics company to donate the materials to create a silicone mold of the temple's carvings so that they could be more easily studied. He created duplicates to study the symbolism of the Mayan people and to use it to teach mapping techniques. While I was busy creating scale drawings of the panel I was working with, he mentioned that the Maya filled every portion of their art with images. His interpretation was that their feared vacuums. Looking back at the panel, images within images were frequent and the scenes flowed into one another making it difficult for people used the flow of European art to understand.

I don't fear empty spaces in my art, in fact, I tend to leave a lot of these days. In my life, however, I might. There is no unused space in my home. Walls, ceilings, shelving is all crammed with stuff. I can admire the spareness of sleek, zen living spaces in pictures, but I can't bring myself to embrace the idea of living like that.  Conquering this fear and attachment to things is a lesson that I am trying to learn, but so far, I've only been able to embrace it in small ways.

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