Temple Art

Temple Art

Culture, religion, and materials have dictated art throughout the ages.

Loving Couple
“Loving Couple”, 13th century, Eastern Ganga dynasty, India (Orissa). The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Culture and religion mainly drive the difference between western art and non-western art. Visit a temple in India. Instead of statues of saints or frescoes depicting Biblical stories, you will find many erotic scenes in the form of sculptures. This is due to the Hindu belief that spirituality of a man and a woman is made complete with the joy of sensual pleasure of erotic love. To convey this to their disciples, scenes of erotic love augment sculptures of Hindu deities.


Hinduism, as it is known now, emerged at about the time that Christianity started. The religion is mixed and complex, with no single founder, no single spokesman, or no single prophet. There is an emphasis on the preeminence of the gods Vishnu and Shiva, along with the goddess Shakti (literally, “Power”). The sculptures of these deities have a perception of movement to them.

I chose these two pieces of Vishnu to show his different personas, a protector and a welcoming god.  I am impressed by the detail of the pieces. I can almost feel the strength of Varaha emulating from his thighs and chest as he devours the primeval serpent monster and rescues the goddess Bhudevi (earth), who is hanging from his tusk. His figure look so masculine and strong. The look of adoration from the surrounding figures for defeating the serpent demonstrates how they look to him for protection. The outstretched arm and the relaxing pose of the four-armed Vishnu provide a calming presence.

Bronze was introduced as a material for statues during the 9th century CE, becoming the standard around the 11th century. It is now the traditional material for the dancing figure of Shiva.

Shiva Nataraja
“Shiva Nataraja – Lord of the Dance”. 11th century CE. Musee Guimet, Paris

The fact that they created such an intricate piece from bronze in the 11th century astounds me. The piece has such fluid movement to it – the flowing ribbon, leg and arm movements, and the different rhythms within the flames. One can almost hear the music playing in the background.

The lone goddess I am portraying is Parvati. Parvati is the gentle and nurturing aspect of the goddess Shakti.

I chose these two pieces to represent Parvati. The stone sculpture from Orissa has such intricate details carved in the stone. The painstaking detail of the ornate jewelry allows you to see each stone distinctively.  Although time has worn away some of the details on “Kalyanasundara- the marriage of Shiva and Parvati,” I can see the outlines of the ornate jewelry here also.

Though the temple art of India is far different to the art of Roman Catholic churches, it is no less interesting. It speaks of their East Asian culture and their belief system. Their convictions to their religion are no less than Europeans convictions. They, too, choose to adorn their places of worship with art that tells the stories of their religion and show their disciples how to live within their beliefs.


Works cited:

Cartwright, Mark. “Vishnu”. Ancient History Encyclopedia. http://www.ancient.eu/Vishnu/. November 25, 2012. Accessed April 10, 2016.

Cartwright, Mark. “Shiva Nataraja – Lord of the Dance”. Ancient History Encyclopedia. http://www.ancient.eu/article/831/. September 8, 2015. Accessed April 10, 2016.

Unknown. “Parvati”. Wikipedia – The Free Encyclopedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parvati Accessed April 10, 2016.

Dehejia, Vidya. “Hinduism and Hindu Art.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/hind/hd_hind.htm  February 2007. Accessed April 7, 2016.

Shrestha, Prajwal. “Non-Western Art”. Art Appreciation. http://appreciationofarts.blogspot.com/2011/07/non-western-art.html. July 17, 2011. Accessed April 7, 2016.

Feminism & Fiber Art

Feminism & Fiber Art

Women’s right movements throughout the years have sought to give women a voice in society. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century through the end of World War I, feminists focused on the suffrage movement and not on the arts. This time was known as the “first wave” of feminism.

The “second-wave” of feminism (in the 1980s) brought rise to textile artists who chose to bring “a new focus on creating work which confronted cultural issues such as: gender feminism; domesticity and the repetitive tasks related to women’s work; politics; the social and behavioral sciences; material specific concepts related to fiber’s softness, permeability, drapability, and so on.” Fiber arts was important due to the traditional association of women working with textiles within the domestic sphere.

The three artists I have chosen to highlight are great examples for turning the textile arts of old on its ear.


OLEK was born Agata Oleksiak in 1978 in Poland. In 2000, she received a BA in Cultural Studies from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland and relocated to New York City, where she is currently based. Through colorful yarns, OLEK’s art examines sexuality, feminist ideas, and the evolution of communication.

Crocheted Taxi. “I do not expect to be a mother but I do expect to die alone”. Tony’s Gallery. London, UK 2012.

The colors and the taxi remind me of Austin Powers. By bombing the taxi in crocheted yarn, it speaks of a time when the world was questioning the reason behind warring. The colors demonstrate that there can be hope for peaceful resolutions.

Projet B
Project B.Crocheted Wall St. Bull. NYC 2010.

I love the nature of guerilla art (uncommisioned public projects). Though many may see this as vandalism, I see beauty. The bull is such an iconic piece in NYC. It represents the opulence of western society. Taming it down with pink camouflage, seems to bring it down to represent the middle-class.

Project M-6
Project M/6. Urban Nation Gallery. Berlin 2014.

Oh, this message speaks of our society. One really doesn’t need to look any further than a social media page to see similar messages. The use of doilies and birds, lend an air of domestic disquietness.


Alice Kettle was born in Winchester, Hampshire. She studied fine art painting at the University of Reading (1979-84) and textile art as a postgraduate at Goldsmiths’ College (1985-6). She is currently a Professor in Textile Arts in MIRIAD Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Flower Helix
Flower Helix. National Maritime Museum. London 2013.

This piece shows how women are viewed as delicate figures within society. The white stairs and the black ornate railing conger images of high society. The helix represents the delicate flower of a debutante. It seems to be a lofty, unrealistic picture of how people view women within higher classes. While beautiful, it is also sad.

Rite of passage
Rite of Passage. “Mythscapes”, solo touring show, hosted by The Bankfield Museum in Halifax. January 2003-2005.

This piece is part of “Mythscapes”, an exhibit that pays homage to Homer’s The Odyessy. The image is comforting to me. I see the footprint in the sand, if you will. As a fan of Homer’s, The Odyessy, I love the picture that this paints in my mind, the adventure through many lands and sea to reach home.

Daniel and the Lioness
Daniel and the Lioness. Victoria and Albert Museum. 2006.

What a lovely piece that feels like a dream of Daniel in the lions’ den. The fluid movement of the thread invokes a dream-like sensation to the piece.


Velda Newman is an internationally recognized contemporary quilt artist, author and lecturer from Northern California. Known for her large scale, mostly organic designs, Newman creates original quilts of exceptional beauty and artisanship.

Zinnia. Nevada City, CA. 2010.

This is Newman’s largest quilt to date, measuring 171/2 ft. and over 7 feet tall. I would love to see this piece up close. The grand scale of which this work is must make one feel as if they are a fairy in a flower show. The colors pop off the quilt and have a 3D feel to them.

freedom is fragile
Freedom is Fragile. Nevada City, CA. 1986.

This quilt was made in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. What a patriotic piece to pick in an election year. The title of the piece says it all, Freedom is Fragile. The Statue of Liberty is America’s symbol of hope. Perhaps this piece needs to go on tour again.

As each of these artists have displayed, the domestic nature of textile art has changed from the old of practicality to one of sending a message. Whether that message is speaking of natural beauty or social sciences, it demonstrates that women artists have a voice.

Works Cited:

Marcus, Sharon. Tapestry Topics. Summer 2004, Vol 30 No. 2.  “Critical Issues in Tapestry.”  http://americantapestryalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Critical-Issues-in-Tapestry-SMarcus.pdf. Accessed April 3, 2016.


Unknown. The Art Story: Modern Art Insight. http://www.theartstory.org/movement-feminist-art.htm Accessed April 3, 2016.


OLEK. Olek personal website. http://oleknyc.com/home. Accessed April 3, 2016.


Manchester School of Art staff bio. Manchester School of Art. http://www.art.mmu.ac.uk/profile/akettle Accessed April 3, 2016.


Alice Kettle. Alice Kettle personal website. http://alicekettle.com/ Accessed April 3, 2016.


Robert Shaw. The Art of the Quilt. Velda Newman quilts. http://www.artofthequilt.com/newmanfreedom.html Accessed April 3, 2016.