In an age of uncertain complexities, Lion Roar at GreenTARA Space in North Hero, Vermont, offers a calmness rooted in our spiritual connections with the Earth. Artwork by Janice Walrafen, Suki Ciappara, and Diane Elliott Gayer evoke this sacred connection through tactile arts born of ancient tradition, wisdom, and harmony. The meditative quality of Lion Roar opens the door to a holistic selfhood that nourishes the soul, conveyed by each artist’s exploration of a deeper existence.
The series of masks by Janice Walrafen present the engaging personalities of diverse spiritual allies. A selection of masks were inspired by the artist’s seven day walk-about during which Walrafen fasted to encourage healing, vision, and to liberate herself of that which no longer served her. Each mask represents a specific idea corresponding to life’s journey, and the resulting self discovery acquired along the way. Each mask is an expression, conjuring a benevolent presence through empathy and affinity.
Many of these masks were created to be worn, offering a transformative power through their performative origins. Their clay faces are adorned with beads, boughs, feathers, leaves, some with magical traces of tulle and glittering pipe cleaners. The various shapes and sizes of human, animal, and abstract faces echo the rhythmic existence of all Earth’s species. Every apparent difference is an essential ingredient to the recipe of life; each character creating a dynamism in concert with the art around it.
Just as Walrafen’s masks symbolize metamorphosis, the felted pieces by Suki Ciappara offer a metaphor of transformation inherent to the properties of working with felt. The push and pull of fibers, teased apart, and gathered together creates an ebb and flow within each composition. The visceral nature of the wool fibers generates a physical presence that is felt without being touched. By simply viewing Ciappara’s pieces, one can understand the sensations of touch, the softness and warmth that resides within each piece. They break the barrier of sensation by conjuring a physical sensation through sight alone. This unexpected experience belongs to the realm of spiritual expansion, defying the rules of logic in order to achieve an abstract understanding of existence.
The series of weavings by Diane Elliott Gayer, titled Ancestor Voices, is inspired by the Five Elements; Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit. The visual effect is one of transcendence in the case of Gayer’s weavings, which present large blocks of color akin to a Color Field painting. The resonating colors produce a meditative effect that departs from weaving’s utilitarian heritage, breaking through to modern abstraction. Weaving is one of the earliest art forms, developing from the usefulness of interlacing branches and grasses to form shelters, nets, and mats. The connection to its ancient origins is evident in the functionality of its form and the harmony of the warp and weft.
Gayer’s personal history also inspired Ancestor Voices. The experience of exploring boxes of remembrances passed down by her late mother provided the foundation for these contemplative pieces. The timing of their creation, during the rise of the 2020 pandemic, also informed their meaning. The convergence of past and present, seen and unseen, are apparent in the poetry Gayer wrote to accompany each weaving: I bow to you in prayer / I give thanks to you in grief / I remember you in this time of stillness / and dream of other futures / on your winged flight – excerpt from April Sky, 2020. These poems illuminate the overall theme of Lion Roar, which is grounded in respect for the Earth, reverence of the past, and hope for the future.
Lion Roar emanates energetic healing and flowing compassion, celebrating the human spirit, and our moment along the thread of history. Lion Roar taps the power of visually soothing and meditative artwork, while creating an atmosphere charged with optimistic inspiration. The spiritual qualities of life, including the unseen forces of our ancestors, will always remain available to ground us in the present moment. No matter what extenuating circumstance is thrust upon us, we will always have the ability to return to the fundamental ideas that allow us to gain our bearings and reacquaint ourselves with our spiritual self.