The World Pattern
India Rajasthan Russia - Vishivka Kazkhstan
Three images from plates etched as molds for ceramic tiles. They are based on patterns originally in other media such as carpets, carvings, petroglyphs and pictographs, embroidery and knitting, The thirty tiles, together with a second series on the theme of water, was commissioned in 2008 for installation at Anna Yates Elementary School in Emeryville where I was living and had my studio.
For the World Pattern series my idea was to demonstrate the diversity and the unity of pattern making from around the world. All the continents are represented. Children from many cultures attending the school would be able to recognize the pattern from their own culture. The tiles are set diagonally and arranged along a low wall. The surface of the tiles would stand out in relief so that rubbings could be made from their surface. The deeply etched plates later provided a rich basis for making prints, developing my own explorations of the patterns with many variations of color possible through printmaking. I also printed the entire series as relief prints without ink. In a process called “blind embossing” the prints can be lit to show in relief as white on white.
It is fascinating to me to see the way that over the millennia people have created patterns of rich complexity that reflect their deep and locally distinct relationship to nature and their cultural and spiritual understanding. Light, weather, geography of local land forms, flora and fauna are some of the influences that define the rhythms, the forms, structures that have evolved within the patterns people make. They are embedded in pottery, woven fabrics, jewelry and metal work, stone and wood carving, and even in one case tattooing.
In designing the tiles I deliberately offset the details from their usual symmetry in order that people would look more carefully at the pattern, even if they thought they knew it. It is easy to pass by a pattern when it appears as a repeating motif and see it as being simply decoration. My hope is to draw attention to some of the alchemical and magical meaning within the forms.
The World Pattern
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