Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Pomegranate Exercise

So back in December I began a project that has just been completed. I found pomegranates on the ground here in Ojai that had been eaten out by birds and animals that looked just so beautiful to me that I began to collect them. Pomegranates, one of my favorite fruits, symbolize the womb and also the fruit of the tree of life. Since I am writing a novel about older women, Crones, saving the world through their creative endeavors, well one thing led to another and I decided to see if any of my friends would be inspired to meditate on a symbol of an empty womb. Twenty three women responded and each one transformed a pomegranate into an amazing work of art. You can see the results on my website patballen.com
(Once on the website, click on 'collaborative projects')
Sallie Wolf hosted a show of the work at her place, Calypso Moon, in Oak Park for a month and then using all the photos, writings and documentation, Hannah Jennings put the show up on my website.

My major creative work right now is writing, an every day endeavor that sometimes make me very lonely for the camaraderie of the studio and the touch of materials, so the Pomegranate Exercise served to connect me to other artists and friends (and friends of friends, since many women invited others). I loved all the organizational details, mailing out the poms, receiving them back transformed, and reading the wise words and reflections of other creative crones or, in some cases, crones-to-be. This project feels like a great experiment in 'virtual community' which I have been working towards since I closed Studio Pardes.

I hope you'll go and visit the exercise and let me know what you think. My deepest thanks to all the artists and to Hannah Jennings of HJ Designs who put the pages up and made them beautiful and easy to navigate. Anyone with ideas for more collaborative projects is invited to get in touch, many of the Pomegranate artists are interested in participating in more such efforts.