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Rowan Farrell - USA - Artworks invoking ancient ceremony and healing. From her twelve original paintings in the Deeper Than Dreams, Archetypal Visions Series, Louisiana born artist Rowan Farrell creates mixed media prints on museum quality paper grown from layer upon layer of adventurous collage and mark making, packed with unexpected iconography and delicious details. Huichol artistry, medieval tapestries, Egyptian iconography and indigenous healing traditions all have their say in the outcome. This body of work, Deeper than Dreams, is invoking the world's oldest forms of ceremony and healing. It is a celebration of indigenous shamanic practices around the world. It is evocative of, and dedicated to all we, as wounded healers, have survived, created, become.
As Rowan explains, "My mother is a painter and sculptor as was her mother before her. Somehow we all managed to survive the social confines of the deep South and to nurture eccentricity in our children. Usually I say I was born from the mouth of an alligator. In the bogs of Louisiana I was conceived and born where female rain overtakes the land and spawns incessant vegetation.
"My studio, about 30 minutes south of Asheville, North Carolina, is hidden at the end of a long dirt road tucked into tall poplars beside a creek on our farm. I first began establishing myself in 1992 by exhibiting as well as working as an assistant with well known artists in Atlanta after earning my BFA from the Atlanta College of Art on a Portfolio Scholarship.
"In Atlanta I also received a Jurors Award from Sandler Hudson Gallery; A Handmade Book Purchase Award from Nexxus Press and was honored in a favorable review by Jerry Cullum, the Editor of Art Papers, which was printed in The Atlanta Journal & Constitution. In 2010 I received a Regional Artist Grant from the North Carolina Council for the Arts, administered by The Henderson County Arts Council.
"I was eager to take art off the walls and to seek out skills in healing and to discover the true relevance of art in the most contemporary terms and so began an extensive six year apprenticeship with one of the last of the travelling midwives of Georgia. I moved to Asheville in 1998 to assist in establishing a Holistic Midwifery School. As a result my work is both a rich exploration and a celebration of The Wise Woman Tradition and indigenous shamanic practices around the world."
Deeper than Dreams
"invoking ancient roots of ceremony and healing"
These works began just following the homebirth of my second child.
They reflect an urgent preoccupation with our prehistorical lineage of healing, birth practices, shamanism; also known as the Wise Woman Tradition.
The pathway through this historical context is neither straightforward nor simple. As Barbara Medlock, author of The Woman in the Shamans Body, has stated, “… that is as it should be, for shamanic experience itself is neither straightforward nor simple. It is complex, mystical, and awe-inspiring, as befits the integration of the physical and spiritual worlds—two diverse and powerful realms where the shaman practices her calling.
The oldest known skeletal remains of a shaman belong to a woman, but she is also the earliest known artisan who worked in clay and then hardened it with fire. She wasn’t making early household utensils; no, she seems to have been making talismans or figurines of some sort, perhaps for use in her rituals and spiritual healing.
How has it happened that we’ve lost sight of this ancient woman shaman and what she represents? That women’s bodies and minds are particularly suited to tap into the power of the transcendental has been ignored. The roles that women have played in healing and prophecy throughout human history have been denigrated. All too often women who enter medicine or the ministry still believe they’re stepping into a strictly men’s field; in fact, these are historically women’s fields that men have since entered.
Women have been characterized as mere artisans or craftspeople—weavers and potters—instead of recognized for the creative, life- giving, cosmos-shaping powers these arts represent. Why? It’s time to take another look at the evidence of millennia and of cultures around the globe. It’s time to reclaim the woman in the shaman’s body.”
Determined to paint with a newborn suckling in my arms, my practice is to embrace and integrate the demands of tending and nurturing rather than resist the flow while allowing a blessing of gratitude to meet all the women who have come and birthed before me. The result is often a fusion of my daughter’s brilliant drawings and a playful exploration of a deep and otherwise endangered way of being in the world.