Friday, October 9, 2009

Finally, A New Post! And, the New Show is Up!

I had to add this photo because I put it in the collage of Lydia's descents and one woman who was looking at all them said, "wow! who was that? she had quite the flair for the dramatic back in her day!". I just said, "Oh yes, she did." HeHe! It's photo of me! Yikers indeed!

I have been busy working on my altar for the Dia De Los Muertos Altar at the Indianapolis Art Center and finally got it finished last night! Whew! I have been either stuck in my studio or out getting supplies. It seems so small and silly now, but I am so detailed oriented-I can't help myself!

I made this altar for my ancestor Lydia Gilbert who came to the British Colonies from England in the 1620s. She was maybe married there or in the Colonies. She and her husband had 4 sons and lived the areas of Salem, MA and Mystic, CT. In around 1650 she was accused of being a witch and hung for it. She was tried in the Courts of Hartford, CT and obviously found guilty of using witchcraft. I am not really sure about the details of her life or how the courts came to the conclusion that she was a "witch". I do know that I am one of her direct descendants so I felt she deserved to have her story told and in a big way.

I took a self portrait photograph and had it blown up to a large size(the frame is about 3x4 feet) because I felt when a person lived in the past like this a painting or drawing is too easy to see as "not real" if that makes sense. I wanted her to be in a photographic and in full colour-something you would never see of her. I made the frame for photograph and painted the boarder for it. I also scanned tons of photographs of her descendants which eventually ended with my parents, my sisters and me and my little nephews. My family never had much money, but they figured out how to get their photos taken! And, thankfully, they held on to everything(um, yeah, like I do too). I made 2 collages of these photos in old frames and put them on either side of her portrait just to show that the "witch" may be gone, but her descendants live on and on.

So, for her photo, I put in a pretty ivory dress that she would never have had because I wanted to give her a pretty dress. I also have her wearing fancy red slippers with red ribbons(surely only a witch would wear red shoes!). I gave her flowers and jewelry too. On her altar table, she has pretty candles and lanterns, a plate of berry scones, maple sugar candy and apples. I also gave her pretty mug with an "L" on it filled with some nice packets of cinnamon tea.

Here are some photos I quickly took of Lydia's Altar. I hope she likes it! I hope all the descendants that have gone on before me like it as well. The "witchiest" thing I can do is wiggle my ears, but I taught myself to do that as a little kid(my grandpa helped me and it was so cool when I finally figured it out!).

And, yes, I know there is the practice of good witchcraft out there that follows the seasons of the earth and all that is good with it. They weren't accusing Lydia of being that kind of witch. They said she was "in league with Satan" and horrible things like that-that she could kill people by putting hexes on them. Well, if she could do that it sure would be a different world. I am pretty sure she was up to her knees in mud trying to make a living out of nothing and take care of her family and herself and didn't have time to "dance with the devil under a full moon". I do hope she can dance for joy now with all her people that love her.


Heather said...

It turned out so wonderful! really, really lovely....I cant believe that woman said that to you when it was a photo of YOU! hahahaha....
congrats on the show!

CindySowers said...

You DO have quite a flare! Turned out great! -- Cindy

RowanDeVoe said...

thanks tashapixie! the photo thing was so funny! funny stuff always happens when you do a show! good luck with your show too!

RowanDeVoe said...

hee! thanks cindy! your are full o' flare yourself!

staceyjwarner said...

It's beautiful. Well done and I love the photo of you. It is captivating.

much love

RowanDeVoe said...

Thank you for stopping by Stacey and thanks for the compliments!
take care,

Carol Anne Strange said...

Oh Merle, what a beautiful, enchanting show! Your work is amazing and there is a special vitality about everything you do. Of course, that is no surprise because you are such a creative, magical soul. What a fantastic tribute to Lydia and all your family. Much love and light, dear one. xx

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute to Lydia...and to you! I suspect Lydia was hung as a witch because she was talented, beautiful, extremely smart and clever, and the people of her community were fearful and jealous of her...but she has still triumphed, through you ( her beautiful, talented, extremely smart and clever descendant)! I LOVE it!
Talk to you soon,
Stella xxx

Du Buh Du Designs said...

I'm so glad you posted images but this is one of those displays I wish I could see in person! It really is an amazing installation~and your attention to detail is superb. Spending time thinking about imagery, what items to include and hunting for them is way of showing love and respect for your ancestry and for Lydia in particular. I still can't get over how women were treated then~this alter is a powerful way of absolving her from judgement and a horrible death.
Fantastic piece Merle!!

Little Brown Sparrow said...

Wow, I'm so moved! To have an ancestor to know something about, but to have one from the Salem witch a way I'm a little jealous!

You've done such a wonderful job giving worship (and no doubt comfort, however much time has past) to your ancestor, who died at the hands of cruel and frightened men. I once read that many of the hallucinations and panic fever in the witch trial period were caused by a mould in the rye they used to make bread. Religion just fuelled the fire, in the worst way.

Lydia is honoured in your work. <3

RowanDeVoe said...

Stella, Christine and Penny Gold,
Thanks so much for your comments-they really make me feel that I am on the right track with Lydia's altar because all I can see now is all the mistakes and parts-the bigger finished image. Of course, I look at it now and think of all the things I could of have done(plus, the gallery knocked some-ok a lot of space off Lydia's altar but it is ok-teaches me to look at things in a new way and figure it out-after I am done flipping out!). The big celebration is 1 November and I wish you all could be there! There are many other amazing altars up as well. I hope Lydia and all the other descendants that have gone on before us will be there too!

red-handed said...

All good, as always Roe ...

Alicia Istanbul said...

Beautiful. I love the way you put together the altar. It's so commendable that you're doing something so wonderful for your ancestor.

joanne May said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
joanne May said...

Stunning work and a lovely tribute to your ancestors. I think the Salem witch trials was a huge injustice and very sad. I feel Lydia would be very proud of you. The black and white photo of you is so dramatic and beautiful!
Hope to see you again soon.;)
Love Jo,x

RowanDeVoe said...

thank you jo! i so hope lydia likes her altar. it scares me so much what mass hysteria can do to people. i hope that someday, somehow we can all stand up on our own and do the right thing regardless of what the larger crowd is saying. who knows really what was going on back then-there are so many theories. i just wanted to bring some beauty and peace to lydia.

ooh, and thank you carol anne! you words are always so beautiful-well, as you are wonderful writer of course!

thanks redhanded, i always loved hearing from you!

RowanDeVoe said...

thank you alicia! i really appreciate everyone's comments! and, i love all the great new pieces you are making-they are "swoon worthy". i am wearing my chalice well right now!