Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Chasing Imunu in Clouds of Wool

Mangrove Root Imunu or Kakame approx 1700s
I've been transfixed by the Oceana Exhibit at the De Young in SF since it opened (The Jolika Collection.) Most inspiring are the few pieces referred to as Imunu.  As I understand it, the Shaman would have a spirit vision, then seek out this spirit in the wood, and embellish it, rendering its most salient details more visible.

 This is the process I have used for a many of the wool sculptures I've done.  I do my best to respect the process, and differentiate between the wool Imunu, which are very much a communication between conscious and unconscious mind as they interact with the wool, and other pieces which are conceptual and aesthetic creations that are more intentional.

I don't want to scare anyone off with the "magical" and "mystical" vision stuff.  For the most part, I believe "magic" is a system of using deep symbolism to assist the conscious and unconscious mind to unite into another kind of consciousness.  Dreams, fasting, self-hypnosis, ceremonial magic, sleep deprivation, meditation, ecstatic dance. . . all of these things and more have been historically used to travel to. . . . wherever you want to believe that "other" place is.  Another dimension.  The unconscious mind.  The faerie realm.  I have no idea.  I'm as likely to pick up one of these hitchhikers in a walk through the redwoods as I am dancing to a high energy band.  Often one will arise, bright against my closed eyelids while resting, empty, in savasana after 90 minutes of intense Bikram Yoga. 

I look for these "visions" in one of the ever growing piles of wool around the house.  Sometimes I sketch them because I might not yet have the wool to complete them.  But the process.  It's hard to explain what it's like sitting down and letting one of these creatures form over many hours and days out of a cloud-like puffs of wool.  It isn't easy.  And it isn't always fun.   More than writing or music ever did, chasing these sometimes whimsical, and sometimes dark visions has been an act of self-exploration and a process of discovery and healing.  Whether I've wanted it to be or not!

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