2009, 37 x 82", acrylic on unstretched canvas, by Jenny Badger Sultan
This was the first of my long panels on unstretched canvas. I had been given a roll of finely textured canvas by a friend whose artist husband had left it when he died. It was just the right width and had two finished selvedges. (I have not been able to find anything like this canvas since I used it all up.) So I was inspired to make a series of long panels on this unstretched canvas.
A ba (Egyptian concept of the soul)
Although I had a subject in mind for each one (except for Deep Time), I began in a completely random way, first scraping wavy paths of different gold powders mixed with acrylic medium down the center of the canvas. Then, working sometimes on the floor, sometimes on a table, sometimes on the wall, I scraped on colored glazes, pressed on textures, made resists and worked very freely and experimentally. At a certain point, for "Kore" and the Green Man, I drew the concentric circles and the bodies and continued to develop color and texture within those structures. Additional imagery and creatures arose out of the accidents in the paint or from dreams and imagination.
I had been seeing an elongated life-sized female figure behind my eyes for some time. I got out the flyer Hank and I made for our “Psychic Works” show at the Unicorn Gallery in 1970 and realized I really love the figures we drew for that. So I decided to use that idea in some way--intersecting circles.
I started with a gold undulating central strip, then added texture with white gesso. I dripped and scraped color--thinking of the colors of the chakras. The two flanking snakes appeared fairly soon. I went on, developing her body and other images that were suggested in the paint or in dreams. I used my footprints to support the figure.
I had been thinking of her as “Kore,” a term used to describe ancient Greek sculptures of young women, but she had developed into more of a goddess figure. When I thought about a more specific goddess name, nothing seemed right. Then I went to Barbara G. Walker’s “Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets” where she describes Kore as “Greek Holy Virgin, inner soul of Mother Earth (Demeter); a name so widespread, that it must have been one of the earliest designations of the World Shakti or female spirit of the universe.” This was a surprise to me, and made the title seem just right.