PHELAN MEEK Exhibition Proposal. Fertile Ground Medium: Mixed Media Size: Varied Date: 2007-2009. Fertile Ground.
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Madalena, A Tribute to Ivan LinsResin, crushed glass, bird nest, tree branches, Australian Banksia pods, encaustic on paper, wood. 33x28x7in., 2009
Ivan Lins is a Brazilian singer/composer whose most
popular song is called “Madalena.” I love his music
so much that I have several of his albums loaded into
my mp3 player. One day as I stood in my studio with
the mp3 player plugged into my ears, “Madalena”
began to play and this piece began to appear in my
mind. Lins’ “Madalena” is a love song. My “Madalena”
is a love song to the beauty, fragility and strength of
woman through her connection to her self and to the
After many failed attempts to become pregnant I had reached the end. This was my last time. After the embryo was implanted I stayed in bed for a week thinking this would help the embryo incubate. I was determined. As I looked out the window the following poem came to me:
I Long for the Cardinal, Red
A menage a trois of mourning doves
Fights on the ground amongst the dirt and seeds
Finches couple, chickadees acrobat and squirrels somersault on branches
But, I long for the Cardinal
On the fence across the yard
(The pregnancy was successful.)
As the torso made of resin and crushed glass came
out of the mold I realized that this thing that appeared
fragile was in fact strong and hard. This inspired me to
create a religious type of reliquary to display the torso as
It seemed that the strength inherent in fragility should
be honored in a prayerful way. This sense of the strength
that comes from being in being in touch with one’s fragility became a central theme in my work after completion of this piece.
I believe that we all have the capacity for
truth and insight but that it is often socialized
out of us. This became apparent to me when
I would listen to my own child during her early
years ( and sometimes now in her adolescence)
and be blown away by her perceptions…so much
so that at one point I thought that she might be
a guru. At 26 months of age she excitedly asked
for a paper and pencil because she wanted to
write an inspirational story about the meaning of
life. I was terrified but in awe and wondered
what the future held in store for her. Her musings
continued. She talked about what it had been like
in the womb and remembered being stuck and that
someone had to get her out. These reflections by
my two year old led me to respect the truth within.
This set of works focuses on our connection with the
universe while at the same time we are connected to
the Earth. How better to connect with the Earth than
through our feet?
“Walkin’ My Vortex Back Home” is one of my favorites
because it is whimsical and profound at the same time.
It captures the vortex within and without, our relationship
with the universe and with ourselves.
Consider the vortex of family life. The whirlwind of activities,
emotion and caring. Again, feet as the anchor between the
vortex and the Earth.
In French, Pied a Terre means … but it also means
“Feet on the Ground.” This piece which utilizes tree
bark and Australian Banksia pods as well as burled
maple exemplifies our connection with the Earth. We
are one with the Earth. We come from the Earth and
we go back to the Earth.
We are fragile, but have a relationship with the
Earth. We are grounded but fragile. We exist
in relation to the Earth and the universe.