Saturday, March 7, 2015

Omphalos



The opportunity to show and share ones work with an appreciative audience is the ultimate for an artist. From conception to completion is often a long journey. Today at Toby's Feed Barn in Point Reyes Judith's piece Omphalos was presented by Steve Costa, Kate Levinson (conference sponsors) and Tracy Grubbs (curator) marking its travels from Kehoe Beach to a place of honor at the art exhibition, Mapping a New Geography of Hope: Women and the Land.

This is Judith's artist statement for the show:

An omphalos (ὀμφαλός) is a religious stone artifact that represents the center of the universe. In Greek the word omphalos means "navel". In Delphi it was a sacred place where pilgrims sought spiritual guidance and answers for their most perplexing problems. What did those people ask?  Did they consult about the vagaries of love and how to open the heart? Did they wonder about the ultimate fate of the planet? the universe?  Did they "google" for insights and inspirations or did they want hints from Heloise?

In December, when I found a 18" x 8" round of styrofoam washed up on Kehoe Beach, I was thrilled. I sensed that I had found the "answer" for my submission to the Mapping a New Geography of Hope: Women and the Land art exhibition. 


The piece of white foam with a hole in the middle immediately brought to mind the omphalos at Delphi. Although the idea of the omphalos had loomed in my imagination, I had no recollection of ever seeing a photograph of the actual thing. Later at home, I did a image search on my computer to see what the "omphalos" might look like. The first photograph up was of a stone artifact that now resides at the Archeological Museum in Delphi. It is a beehive shape with relief carvings of rope netting surrounding it. Could it be that this net pattern represented an ancient idea of the Internet?


For the plinth, I used a large styrofoam cylinder float (found another day on Kehoe Beach) that must have once been cinched tight with fishing netting. The criss-crossed markings embossed on the surface of the buoy makes a connection across time and space with the Delphi ur-omphalos original. 


These days we often ask the knowledge navigators Siri or Google for directions or guidance. It is my hope that my Omphalos will evoke a sense of awe and wonder and become a sacred place where we can refresh our commitment to planetary healing; an oracle where we can ask the navel of the universe, How are we connected to our Earth Ocean Mother?


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