Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Elemental/Transcendental: The Goddess Returns

I  was one of 10 artists in Santa Fe chosen  to participate in the national Herradura Art Barrel challenge. The local judges at the event Nov  3 chose a Day of the  Dead pop art piece and gave the winner  10,000 dollars.
Elemental/Transcendental: The Goddess Returns 

As pieces of the barrel fell away from my jigsaw, I spotted a rusty horseshoe nailed to the fence. “For good luck,” I said, and set the herradura in my studio next to the silk I painted — material fine enough for a celebration at Hacienda San José del Refugio, the original home of the Herradura tequila estate.

This piece raises a glass to transformation and transcendence. Fire, perhaps from the  heated breath of El Dragon, transforms agave and oak, shapeshifting into a seductive libation coveted around the world. Here, Mayahuel, Goddess of Agave, rises from her death, her lover’s devoted tears mingling with hers to add magical elements found only in exceptional tequila.

However, there is more to this magical  story of  love, death and  resurrection...
Mayahuel's  Sorrow by Beth Surdut

How to stuff a dragon and raise a goddess:
The story begins with the fertility goddess Mayahuel being killed by a jealous rival--- chopped  into little pieces! Mayahuel's  lover, Quetzalcoatl,  cried over her remains for days and  continued to return to the place where she was  killed. The gods pitied him and gave his tears magical powers that transformed Mayahuel into the blue agave plant from which the finest  tequila is made. But  in  the  process of making  that  coveted elixir, more  destruction  ensues.

First the agaves are cut and  mutated by  fire.
Oak trees are cut down, made into barrels,and the barrels are charred on the inside to impart a  smoky  flavor to the tequila that  comes only from the Jalisco region of  Mexico, where  there is  said to  be a  black 7-headed  dragon  living  underground. No one has  actually  seen  El  Dragon, or if  they  have, not  lived to ascertain the number of  heads.

El Dragon tries to escape the studio
In order to keep the  sugar  content high in the agave, the flower stalk is cut before it can bloom into a  myriad of  tiny  yellow flowers.
Out of all this violence and destruction, the feminine divine rises.  I  started with the hard jagged edges of agave-- cutting, sanding and  painting each  stave of the barrel. (oy, such shmutz!) I painted El  Dragon on  silk, then  stuffed  him and  placed  him a in the  barrel along with  the  shadows of  two  more of his heads. The  lower  column and the tall one are  painted silk that I  attached to  heavy  lampshade  material. Each  column is  lit  with tiny lights  on the inside.Mayahuel's head  is covered with  cut  pieces if silk, wired  ribbon  edged  with  god  beads, and  plant  material  sprayed with  gold  glitter. There are  also translucent golden faceted  beads to emulate the agave  flower and droplets  of  tequila. even as she  rises, transformed, 
she cries golden tears.

Much thought, work, adhesives, and  money  went into this piece, so I'd like as many people as possible to see it before  it  gets auctioned for charity.. Please pass this along, post, tweet, or call out the link from the rooftops.

The Goddess Returns  by Beth Surdut
Dragon  shadows

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