4 hours of creating plant mandala prints with Milisa at Plant Workshop put me in a liminal state. I left feeling slightly disoriented (in a light, other world type of way). Dreamlike. I had reconnected to my sensitive self. This is the part of me that is often callused over in effort to manage the overstimulation of the world. I had undergone the process of peeling back the layers (removing the callus), accessing a glimmer of what lies beneath the ‘stuff’ of daily life. The comfort of ‘dropping in’, like the weightless ease of floating in a kettle pond.
A subtle attunement to universal.
Artmaking and the creative process can bring us into a liminal state. Liminal defined as, “1: of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold : barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response. 2 : of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional. In the liminal state between life and death” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). In Positive Psychology, Mihály Csikszentmihalyi named this concept Flow state.
In my experience, accessing Flow state is like muscle memory. When one is regularly practicing entrance into that place/state, it becomes easier to ‘call up’, and the time it takes to ‘go in’ becomes less and less. This is similar to a meditation practice. It typically takes me about 20-30 minutes to get into a zone.
The first part of creating plant prints (in this situation we were specifically making plant mandalas) entails laying out the plants and flowers in a pattern, or in a manner, that suits your fancy. There is a meditative rhythm that begins to present as one works to find an aesthetic balance, experimenting and exploring in an effort to create a form that resonates from within, and/or (more externally) pleases the eye. Next (after the plants are placed, layered, sandwiched between two blocks of wood, and bound with twine), the wood block sandwiches are placed in a boiling bath to simmer leaving the magic of alchemy to take the reins. They are then removed from their bath, and left to marinate.
The next part of the process in creating plant prints, is the unveiling. After the plants have adequately steeped in the containment of the woodblock sandwich, the press is opened and the product is revealed.
It was beautiful to see that the product so accurately reflected the process. And that process continued as I sat and reflected on the prints.
Zoom in, zoom out.
The little nooks, transitional spaces, empty places, subtle color, the hues of nature, remnants of ‘what was’… the interplay of life and death, light and shadow…subtle remnants, softness.
A gentle reminder of the power of patience.
The plant printing process captured that time, moment …. the space in between. The residue and gentle imprint of life from plants that have been deemed to be ‘dead’ amongst the natural world. The little guys who have fallen off the tree and found themselves on the ground where they wait until moving into some other form. And then the saturation of color from the young flowers, newly budded and fresh.
Stages of life, transition of places and spaces.
Thank you to Milisa and Plant Workshop for holding space for me. Join me and Milisa on Wednesday July 24th for our Plant Mandala Prints workshop.
If you miss this one, you can catch the next one.