The Green Goddess and the Goddess of Garnets

by michaeljohnson on November 25, 2009

I have always been fascinated with the symbolic representation of the goddess in abstract.  From as far back as drawing pictures of my mom in grade school to asking girls to model nude for me in my college dorm room, the female form has held me in reverence on many different levels.   The goddess can range from the maternal to the sexual, and never fails to fascinate me in art history.  But, with these pieces it is the form within the form that I am exploring.

I have been asked if I am some sort male feminist because of my depictions of the goddess, but I’m not exactly sure what that means.  I am not for either a matriarchal or patriarchal systems; however, I have been fascinated of the ancient Celtic tradition of renewing a marriage every few years.  Every few years a marriage’s renewal was dependent on the wife’s judgment of whether the man was worthy of keeping, but I think maybe of it were a joint decision there could be a better balance in the house.  No, for me it is a reverence for other half of humanity; that side which seems to me to live off of the opposite end of the wave length.  Like revering a fish that breathes the water, I want to know the fish, but I would not survive to fully know it.  The Yin to the yang.

The female has so much more magic associated with her body; child birth, mystical cycle of the moon, making food for the baby, innate intuitions, and an emotional existence that I will never comprehend.  But, I believe that it is the obligation of the male to try to live in synch with this other half.  Neither should be more dominate.  It’s balance, in for an out, up for a down, a vibration of harmony.

Green Goddess; sterling silver, prehnite beads, and Wisconsin jade.

Green Goddess; sterling silver, prehnite beads, and Wyoming jade.

The female form of the goddess works as sort of a yin-yang within its form, with a vaginal negative space formed by the space that could be seen as its hair cascading behind the form’s head.  In the Green Goddess, the use of jade refers back to the ancient folklore of jade representing love and virtue, and prehnite is said to have the metaphysical property of helping one to overcome an emotional injury.  Both stones have a relevance to the goddess.  This work is about healing and strength.

I also designed this piece to have several difficult cold connections to set the stones and beads within the pendant.  The sterling goddess cut-out holds in the jade using rivets that were soldered into the bezel.  And, the beads are strung along with wire that is connected inside the tubes that surround the piece.

Goddess of the Garnets Set; sterling silver, garnets, and turquoise beads.

Goddess of the Garnets Set; sterling silver, garnets, and turquoise beads.

The Goddess with Garnets Set is hollow-formed in sterling with a hole into the form that serves as the same sort of vaginal-like mechanism within the symbol as the other.  Also the form of the whole pendant and the form of the main shape of the earrings could also represent the effeminate delta, take that as you want.

The garnet is a stone that has an ancient link to Greek mythology, “After Hades had abducted Persephone and taken her down into the underworld, Zeus, on the behalf of Demeter, commanded him to release her. Zeus sent Hermes to ensure the safety of Persephone’s passage. Hermes found Persephone seated next to Hades. Upon the sight of Hermes, Persephone was elated to be released from underworld. Hades knew he must head the command of his brother and had no choice but to let her go. Hades was eager to ensure her return. Before leaving, Hades gave, as a gift to Persephone, a pomegranate. She willingly accepted it and Hades knew that once she experienced the sweetness of the ripened seeds that she would return to him. In fact Persephone did return to Hades for three months of every year forever. Persephone’s return caused the winter to arrive for the three month for which she remained with Hades. The pomegranate (and garnet) is associated with eternity in many Greek Myths. Many have associated the gift of the pomegranate seeds with the gift of fine garnet gems. Its meaning has given symbolism to garnet as a gift of love’s attraction, a gift of quick return or as a gift of estranged love. This myth gave partial rise to the belief that garnet is a stone for loved ones who travel and a crystal that can heal the broken bonds between lovers.”  Link

These are both sterling silver works that have been patina’d to bring out colors and contrast in the forms.  There is something alive about a patina.  Many jewelers and artists believe that it is best to fix the work in some sort of state of permanence, such as a high polish.  But, I can argue that the moment that you get it “fixed” the forces of nature immediately start to undo that state; scratches, abrasion, chemistry, etc.  So, I have never tried to give that illusion with my work.  I prefer to embrace the state of flux that our materials have.  The patina adds the wild card to the mix.  My work changes colors depending on its environment and history.  I like to think of these goddesses as living entities that will grow and age pending on what the wearer contributes to the work.

From ancient men carving out their goddesses in stone thousands of years ago to Greek mythology through to today, the goddess fascinates and intrigues men.  These works carry a story, and they are sure to spark a conversation.  Whether it’s a conversation of the heart with someone you have just caught the attention of in a social setting, relaying the mythologies of the work, or keeping alive the tales within our cultural conscience, this is just another Cosmic Folklore.

I hope you enjoy.


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