Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Why I make Reliquaries


I saw my first reliquary at the Cleveland Museum of Art while I was majoring in metalsmithing at the Cleveland Institute of Art.  I was not raised Catholic, but it seems that Catholicism, Buddhism, and many other religions had made numerous and impressive tributes to their Gods and Saints since the beginning of time.  Perhaps in Pagan times, these were talismans.  They became something to physically embrace in eternal remembrance.  This had a huge impact on me because it seems like I've always wanted to hold onto something that helped me understand the meaning of life through loss.


I've lived through the Aids crisis, the Cancer crisis, and most recently the Covid Crisis.  I am profoundly impacted by death and loss.  It has not left me unmarked.  Making something as a memorial or tribute to these losses gives me peace.

In the interim between birth and death, there s life.  In life, there are things we hold onto as memories and mementos.  It's a fact that we're born alone and die alone.  That is why I'm fascinated by the objects we hold dear to our hearts, the things, and memories we collect to ease the pain and celebrate the joy during our life journey.

What can be more special and tender than a memorial to those we've loved and lost or to the things we've held close to our hearts as talismans.  This is where my "act of art" becomes an "act of the heart".  In making these pieces it becomes prescient and relevant in these trying times now more than ever.

In my most recent reliquary, I explore God.  What is God?  To me, Nature is my God.  It is something that regenerates and dies and completes the process regularly.  Regeneration. Joy. Peace.  Things we all seek.  This Reliquary is made from an antique celluloid rosary case.  I made a watercolor inside that shows a rainbow at the end of the path,  I painted a small bluebird to represent the hope of flight and transformation.  I would love to be able to fly.  This little bird painting is encased in a gold bezel and set under an old watch crystal and can be removed from the hook to be worn on a necklace, close to a beating heart.