The Burghers of Calais

Several years ago I visited the campus of Standord University in California. I was intrigued with these sculptures of Rodin. I have to admit I wasn’t familiar with the entire story behind them. Blogging is so educational!

These six men represent the Burghers of Calais (Les Bourgeois de Calais).

 

In 1885 the town council of the French city of
Calais commissioned Rodin to produce a
sculpture that would pay tribute to the
burghers of Calais, heroes of the Hundred
Years’ War and symbols of French patriotism.
~ ~ ~ ~
Rodin chooses to portray the moment in the
narrative when the men, believing they are
going to die, leave the city. He shows the
burghers as vulnerable and conflicted, yet
heroic in the face of their likely fate.

(Two excerpts from “THE STORY OF THE BURGHERS OF CALAIS”)

Most of the time, these men are portrayed in a cluster. Here on the Stanford campus, they are shown in separate bronze castings (1981). These were not from the original, however. By law, only a small number were made from the original after Rodin’s death. Here is a casting of Rodin’s signature.

 

Calais is an important French port on the English Channel. In 1347, during the Hundred Years’ War, Calais had been under siege for over a year by the English. Due to starvation, King Philip VI of France was not able to hold onto Calais. King Edward III of England said he would “spare the people of the city if any six of its top leaders would surrender themselves to him, presumably to be executed.”

Eustache de Saint-Pierre volunteered to be first. Five others followed.

 

They walked out wearing nothing but their “breeches” (underwear) with nooses around their necks. Jean Froissart (circa 1337-1400) wrote the story in his Chroniques that relate historical events of that era as he saw them.

The figure in the final monument portrays Pierre de Wiessant looking over his shoulder, his hand extended as if in despair. His face shows great anguish, and his intense emotions make him appear withdrawn from the other figures.
http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg34.html

 

As we confront Jean d’Aire, we find ourselves focusing on the self-absorbed quality of the figure and gradually, almost without our awareness, we come to realize that we are confronting the unheroic, complex human being that is ourselves. http://www2.davidson.edu/academics/acad_depts/art/facilities/jeandaire.html

 

Although Froissart does not mention Andrieu d’Andres in his Chroniques, the name of this man was uncovered in 1863. The figure is shown “already clutching his head in despair.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Jacques de Wiessant was Pierre’s brother, and the fourth burgher to volunteer. Rodin gives his “his final gesture, the raised arm.” http://nga.gov.au/International/Catalogue/Detail.cfm?IRN=115165

 

Rodin assumed Jean de Fiennes to be the youngest of the six burghers. . . . The burgher’s expression is very doubting as if he has not quite accepted his seemingly imminent fate. http://www.cantorfoundation.org/Rodin/Gallery/rvg33.html

 

It was this moment, and this poignant mix of defeat, heroic self-sacrifice, and willingness to face imminent death that Rodin captured in his sculpture, scaled somewhat larger than life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Burghers_of_Calais

 

Philippa of Hainault, England’s Queen, was expecting a child and she convinced her husband not to execute the men, claiming that “their deaths would be a bad omen for her unborn child.”

A remarkable incident in history – and a stunning set of sculptures for Stanford University, located in Memorial Court at the entrance to the Main Quad and Stanford Memorial Church.

For more of Rodin’s work, you might like to visit the Rodin Sculpture Garden, located off the Palm Drive entrance to Stanford University.

A hui hou!

Making Kihei

In preparation for our 70th Anniversary as Hawai`i Community College, faculty and staff have been making personal kihei to wear for the celebration. A kihei is a rectangular cloak, traditionally tapa, tied in a knot over one shoulder. You will see them being worn in my next post about the 2011 graduation ceremonies.

One of my great students at the college is Kapuailohia Van Dorpe, who offered to help me create my kihei. Kapua is the daughter of Puanani Van Dorpe, a master kapa cloth maker who is a living treasure of Hawaii. Her beautiful and intricate work is on display at Bishop Museum. Click here to see a painting of Puanani done by Herb Kane. Kapua is in the process of establishing her own clothing creations that will incorporate some of the traditional designs.

Ohe kapala (ohe = bamboo, kapala = printing) uses a carving done on bamboo, rolled with acrylic paint, and placed on the cloth. Here is Kapua’s collection of tools.

On Kapua’s couch were several ohe kapala pillows.

There is quite a process involved in creating the exact design you want for your personal kihei. Beside a wider brown border, I am placing a thin green motif that represents the maile lei.

The finishing touch was printing my own design I made out of clay. It represents two of the many aspects of my own heritage – Native American and Celtic. The right spiral represents migration, life and renewal.

Watch for Sunday’s post! You will see many different designs on other kihei as well as the finished product Kapua and I made.

If you would like to read more about the many artisans, storytellers, dancers, etc. in Hawai`i, check out this book.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=lujotast-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0944134017&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Ten pages in this book are devoted to the story and work of Puanani Van Dorpe. You will understand why it was such an honor to be guided by her daughter in making my kihei.

Mahalo nui loa, Kapua!

Expressive Arts Project

Several weeks ago, I invited an artist and colleague to lead my “Psychology and The Expressive Arts” class in an art project. She had the students work in dyads and write out three definitions of “home.”

Then they were given a page of lines from a book of poetry by another professor at our school. The book is Lele Kawa: Fire Rituals of Pele, by Taupōuri Tangarō (Kamehameha Publishing). After choosing three of these lines that most represented their definitions of “home,” they were to create a poster out of various materials that were available to them.

Click here to see a slide show of those posters that describe “home.”

A hui hou!

Metaphors

One of my readers hoped that the reason I hadn’t been blogging recently was because I was off drawing with my new-found pastel chalks. I wish I could say that was my excuse for being absent this last month, but the truth is that I have been doing my best to lift the spring semester off the ground.

One of my favorite courses to teach is “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” Not only do they learn how to use the expressive arts (writing, painting, clay, dance, music and more) in doing counseling, but to use the arts to re-discover the creativity within.

This past week I gave my students an assignment to write about one of the metaphors in their lives.

Metaphors are all around us, and I offered suggestions for my students to find them in unexpected places.

One of my personal favorites is the metaphor of sailing. I’ve used it so many times in the past that it’s almost become a cliché, and yet it is a strong metaphor for me. Those of you who have been reading my posts fairly regularly will remember that I lived on my 37’ sloop for five years.

I moved off my sailboat to the Phoenix area when I was assigned to be a pastor there. About six months into that appointment, one of the men in the church came to me and said, “This is the first Sunday you haven’t mentioned sailing.” He went ahead to say that he wasn’t tired of it, but that it emphasized the fact of how many ways sailing was a rich metaphor for our lives.

We’ve seen many sailing metaphors illustrated on posters or key chains and the like. I am reminded of one metaphor in particular that continually comes into my life, and that is the way we have to maneuver the boat in order to get to our destination.

You know that a sailboat cannot go directly into the wind without being stalled. The sailor must tack back and forth, sailing just off the wind, yet never losing sight of our goal.

The same thing is true of my life. When I am not able to sail directly toward my goal without getting stalled, I don’t need to let that stop me. I can veer off course a little as long as I keep in mind where I ultimately want to go.

This has been true so many times – with education, career, home, relationships. How easy it would have been to give up, rather than to let the wind carry me in a different direction!

A hui hou!

A New Year For The Old Me!

During the current semester break, several events came together that caused me to stop and remember who I was am. Perhaps everyone would find it valuable to take time to remember who they were in a “past life,” i.e., in their younger years. Many surprises will arise out of that exercise.

One of those revealing events for me came in the form of an email from my brother. He had sent me a link to a beautiful site called “Trawlers and Tugs Blog.” http://trawlersntugs.com/blog/ All she does is cover art about working boats. I suggest you check it out because of the beautiful art work in her posts.

In response to his email, I said that as much as I enjoyed painting with watercolors, I have taken no time to indulge in anything artistic – and that I missed it. It was his answer that made me think. He said, “It bothers me that you don’t take time for yourself to make music, paint, sew, act, direct, etc. All my life I associated those kind of things with you.” I promised him I would start again.

Another revealing event is one that actually comes every other spring semester. I teach a course called “Psychology and the Expressive Arts.” It’s my favorite class to teach, and yet I put my own artistic past aside and simply teach others how to draw on their creativity.

Sometimes I get a glimpse of that “old Lucy” when I’m teaching other courses, too, but I shove it aside in the interest of the students. This year in my preparation for the “expressive arts” class to begin on January 10, it came to me that I need to take an active part in the very class I teach on creativity.

When I find myself re-reading books like Who You Were Meant to Be: A Guide to Finding or Recovering Your Life’s Purpose, Who You Were Meant to Be: A Guide to Finding or Recovering Your Life’s Purpose by Lindsay C. Gibson, Psy.D, or other books about finding “the authentic you,” then I know there is something I’m needing to pay attention to. These books finished pulling everything together for me.

So I went out to my storage shed and started rummaging around for my art materials, deeply buried. When I opened up the first box of pastels, I said “Ohhh!” right out loud. The brilliant colors took my breath away, and tears came into my eyes. I cleaned up an old oak index card file box I have, put all my boxes of pastels in it, and placed it with a big art pad. These are going into my car to have handy.

Perhaps you are someone who has already re-discovered the “old you” – the authentic you – and are living the life you were meant to live. If so, I congratulate you! My suspicion is that most who will read this post need a reminder to take time this New Year and think about who they are.

As an instructor, I must be authentic if I want to continue to inspire my students to be authentic – and creative.

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!
(Happy New Year!)

Jill of (too many) Trades?

In the past, I have been called a “Renaissance woman,” because of the many activities in which I am interested. The 4th Edition of American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, defines “Renaissance woman” as “a woman who has broad intellectual interests and is accomplished in areas of both the arts and the sciences.”

I think I fit into the first part of that definition, but not as much in the last. I do have broad interests that are (mostly) intellectual, however these interests are (mostly) in the arts.

More than the term “Renaissance woman,” I tend to call myself “Jill of all trades, and mistress of none.” I have a passionate interest and a bit of talent in many of the arts, so I think the problem I mentioned in yesterday’s post is not so much my (real) hesitation in marketing, but the problem of deciding in which art I want to devote my time and energy right now.

There is a wonderful book by Barbara Sher with the title of I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was. That’s the title of my life, and probably for many of you! Yes, I read it! Yes, I have my own copy! And yes, of course, I need to pull it out and re-read it!

Yesterday, I talked about writing. The “angst du jour” is about art, as in drawing and painting. Like with writing, since I was old enough to scribble on the walls I’ve enjoyed the feel of working with charcoal and pastels. Some of that thrill was lost when I took art classes and didn’t draw exactly the way the instructor thought I should.

I want to dig out all my charcoal sticks and colored pastels, put them in a box in my car along with a pad of paper. There are so many opportunities to capture the beauty of my island!

Any bets as to how long that box travels in the car with me without being opened – and used? If I can get my fingers limbered up enough to do a simple picture, it will be a lot cheaper than any camera I could lust for.

Or is this just another excuse to avoid marketing my written work?

A hui hou!

Firewoman

 

Perhaps it’s appropriate that I am posting the story of this amazing fire artist on Fourth of July weekend! The fireworks in her studio, however, definitely are more productive than those in the sky.

 

Carmen Wagner is a dear friend and first-class artist as a glass sculptor. Words are inadequate for her glass sculptures and jewelry.

 

I had a hard time deciding between this dragon and the dolphin for the opening photo.

 

When Carmen was introduced to Howard Richie at the Crystal Gallery at age sixteen, she was hooked. She soon started an apprenticeship with him. “I was only paid when I made something good enough to sell,” she says.

After she inherited all Richie’s old equipment, she re-machined torches and fixed broken tools. That was the start of her workbench setup. She still uses most of her original tools.

Isn’t this arrangement of coral and fish exquisite?

 

She has always loved to create things, and says that when she found glass work, she knew there were few people with that skill.

 

Carmen surprised me at the school one day with a beautiful pair of red seahorse earrings. All of these earrings are stunning!

 

Her father was a Filipino immigrant and her mother was born in Ka’u. Her parents had a farm in Honaunau, but they moved to Oahu before Carmen was born. When she was three, they moved back to the Honaunau farm.

 

It was difficult for her to learn a trade that was dominated by men, but she was a determined young woman.

 

Her work can be found in collections world-wide. A set of ornaments were hand delivered by Neil Abercrumbie to President Obama for Christmas last year.

 

I took a shot of a photo of one glass sculpture that hangs on Carmen’s studio wall.

 

During the few minutes that we talked, Carmen started a new project. The term for what she does is “lamp working.” She uses bottled oxygen and propane with a pre-mix torch.

 

At the end of my visit, she showed me her newly created jelly fish.

 

Here is another view.

 

And finally, here is beautiful Carmen. Please check out her website for more of her art.

 

If you are looking for her work on the Big Island, check the Showcase Gallery (Kainaliu), Elements Gallery (Waimea), Gallery of Great Things (Waimea) and Dovetail Gallery (Kona). She is working on accounts for Maui and Oahu. Perhaps you will treat yourself to a sculpture for your home, a pair of earrings for yourself or a friend, or order something special to commemorate your visit to Hawai`i.

Click here to view a slide show of Carmen at work and more of her fragile pieces.

A hui hou!

Aloha!
Feral Fables, my newly published e-book, will be available for a special promotional price of $2.99 until August 1, 2010. Go here to to buy or sample Feral Fables. Use the promotional code “SL25S” (not case sensitive) at checkout.
Mahalo! (Thank you!)