Baptism by Fire: An Allegory of Transformation celebrates the broad spectrum of emotions that humans experience through the use of archetypal, religious and cultural symbols.
3-dimensional papier mâché sacred hearts and alabastrite skulls are used to evoke an emotional response. The juxtaposition of the iconic symbols of life and death in this piece explores both the religious and secular implications of the term Baptism by Fire, and tells a story of transformation.
The life experiences that truly transform us are often born of struggle and hardship. Yet we often seek to forget the very experiences that deepen our understanding and appreciation of life. The height of our joy is equaled only by the depth of our sorrow. In honoring the “negative” we appreciate the positive more fully.
Baptism by Fire, or at least the beginnings of it were born when Bethany began working with iconic images of hearts nearly 25 years ago, using the heart as an allegory for the process of healing. Over the course of time the heart made numerous appearances in her art, each time taking on a new form and new personal significance.
Additionally, in 2013, Bethany began painting calaveras to be displayed and sold as an honoring of Dia de Los Muertos, the Mexican day of the dead. This ancestor honoring holiday struck a deep cord with Bethany. The thematic combination of Bethany’s hearts and her love for the holiday and building ofrendas for departed loved ones.
The opportunity to recreate drawn and painted 2-dimentional hearts into free standing sculpture is intriguing to Bethany, while giving her the chance to revisit some of her earlier work in a new and compelling manner.
The following are experiments and prototypes for the papier-mâché hearts that will make up the bulk of the piece. Updated photos will be posted as the work progresses…
June 3rd, Progress Report
I now have twenty five hearts in production. I’m unsure at this pint how many I’ll be making. I intend to make them in groups. I’ll paint the twenty five that I have now, and then begin the process of making more.
the final number depends upon how they look once I’ve done my first mock up of the the hearts and skulls on the table they’ll be on. And speaking of the display, I’ve honed in on a final concept of the display of the individual sculptures. After several concept drawings (that were interesting and appealing in their own ways), it was my husband that help me to realize my final vision of the piece. I don’t typically collaborate in this manner, but I was in a dilemma with too many concept sketches, and none of them quite right.
My husband, Jody is constructing the table for me, based upon plans he found for this trestle style table. Although we decided to change the style of the table top to feature reclaimed hardwood boards salvaged from pallets. The idea was inspired by this photo and here are the boards that we’ve pulled from the pallets.
June 25th Update
Progress continues at a good pace. I have 25 hearts made and in various stages of the painting process. The final vision of this piece continues to evolve, and I’m quite sure it will continue too. It has been a rewarding process so far, and it continues to shed light on my journey as an artist.
My original intention was to paint each heart with some sort of iconic imagery that would evoke the emotions of the human experience. However, they have shown me the error in my judgement. Some of the hearts will will paintings upon them, but some will also have finishes that express feelings, and some will be assemblage art. I believe the diversity offered by the mixed techniques will offer a richer experience for the viewer as well as providing me with a way to be more expressive.