The Ascent Cycle Begins!

Tell me, where is the soul’s abode? — Upon the pinions of the wind.
– Meister Eckhart

Last fall, I built a pair of wings. Thanks to the help of feather-making tutorials from The Crooked Feather, drill-pressing assistance and advice of one of Vermont’s best french horn players, and the patience of our local town hardware store owner (and I mean, where else than Vermont can you run your clanking wing apparatus down Main Street to consult Brad and his dog at the store?), and sheer stubbornness, a sixteen-foot pair of wearable, articulating wings were born. I held a soft opening to bring them out to the Bethel community back on December 13, 2018, and it was interesting to see how different people responded:

Ascent, carpenter’s harness, aluminum channel, found aluminum scrap, nuts and bolts, galvanized steel wire, broadcloth, Loctite Power Grab adhesive, screen door regulators, bicycle tire inner tube, oil paint,
latex paint, felt, spandex, thread, velcro, hot glue, beeswax, leather cord, hand-beaten brass, found brass, found cast iron pincers, ribbon, poultry feathers, 2018.

I am just about to dive into painting a whole body of large scale work around the theme of ascent—the Ascent Cycle for now—that will have this particular interactive multimedia sculpture as its center. Will I paint Icarus? Yes. But manmade wings are not just about the mythological Icarus flying too close to the sun and failing. His father, Dedalus, made the journey safely from Crete to Sicily. Images, metaphors, and stories of flight and transcendence are so fundamental to our experience as human beings that they appear in mythologies, religious traditions, and folklore around the world from as early as, I would propose, man noticed birds in flight.

So the media involved in this project is not just feather, aluminum, wire, and, well, the usual paint and linen. I have also been combing through wisdom traditions, poetry, and shamanic ethnographies for written ascent imagery to accompany the installation. Stay tuned!