I have been having SO MUCH TROUBLE with The Beautiful and Damned (which means it was probably really stupid to buy another Fitzgerald; oops). I’m in the home stretch, but it’s proving difficult, so for this week, I finished something else for you.
While I was studying religion at UNC, I took a class on religious objects. We were assigned a book called Neo-Pagan Sacred Art and Altars: Making Things Whole by Sabina Magliocco. I read…well, it turns out I actually read most of it, but I had never finished it. I kept insisting I would, but everything else seemed like a better read. But I finally did it.
(It’s my selection for “book at the bottom of your to-read list.”)
Being raised in a Christian community, Neo-Pagan art wasn’t really something I had ever considered. However, the book was very interesting. Magliocco interviewed several artists about their relationship with their work and “sacredness.” They discussed how the creative process was a spiritual event in itself and how the idea is not to create something new from nothing but to bring out the sacredness that is already within the object. They also talk about how they do make money from their art, but they try not to focus on that aspect. The different forms of art include sculpture, body alterations, costumes and masks, and jewelry. Each piece can perform several functions, and show both the place an individual holds within the community and the individual’s unique characteristics.
Though some of the practices of the culture are strange to me, the art (pictures of which are in the back of the book) is truly beautiful. I even fell in love with a piece called “The Millenial Gaia” by Oberon Zell.
That’s another important aspect of the book: the inherent value of femininity as being one with nature, and of pregnancy and childbirth being “the central metaphor for creativity.”
All in all, even though this book was at the bottom of my list, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.
My most favorite thing about this book: All of the references to creativity as a sacred activity.
My least favorite thing about this book: I appreciate that the writer acknowledges the criticism the movement has received for appropriating artwork from other cultures, specifically African and Asian that were otherwise mistreated by whites, but I feel it should have been more prominent and addressed as part of the book, not just in the conclusion.
Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Anyone who’s interested in art and its creation.
Where this book sits on my bookshelf: After Max Lucado’s He Chose You (which I’ve had forever) and before Confessions of an Ugly Step-sister by Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked.