Category Archives: symbolism and climate change

Printmaking and the Imaginal Realm

In this post I am sharing recent printmaking work inspired by personal explorations into what Carl Jung called the “imaginal realm”. 

A very short story

In 2009, before I moved away from the east coast, I viewed a show at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City. The show featured “The Red Book” by Carl Jung, which had never been available for exhibition before. I had read much of Jung’s work over the years and jumped on the train for a chance to see it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_Book_(Jung)

I spent all the time that I could to study the pages of art which Jung had created from his own explorations of his personal imaginal realm. Without going into this topic too much, it is a way of restraining the conscious mind so that images from the “collective unconscious” may by explored.

The Treasure

For an artist, this imaginal realm is a treasure of endless images to work with! Many techniques can be used to make this exploration; among them are forms of meditation, shamanism and dream work. An abundance of information on this topic is online already, so no need to elaborate on that.  

I am sharing a recent work from my personal explorations into this realm, the most recent one shown here is called “The Queen of the Nagas”. This archetype appears on and off in my dream world. And I felt the need to give her image a boost into this ordinary world by means of a technique called a “collagraph”. This is a way of creating textured images and, by using inks of various viscosity, it is possible to build-up multiple colors onto one plate.

Queen of the Nagas, Kathleen Thoma, collagraph, linocut, chine College 14.75x11 in

Queen of the Nagas, Kathleen Thoma, collagraph, linocut, chine colle, 14.75×11 in

What is a Naga?

They are mythic Buddhist serpent people who have great powers, guard inner treasures, and you definitely want to stay on their good side according to the myths. As protecting nature spirits, they don’t like people polluting their rivers, streams or oceans. They bring rain, wealth, and fertility when honored. I imagine they are not very happy with humans these days. The link shows more information about Nagas and their myths world wide. https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/naga

In terms of artistic explorations with printmaking this image took me some time to work out. But I enjoyed it very much. I have been creating a number of images symbolically related to climate change recently, so this is one more. I used several printmaking techniques, as indicated in the caption. 

Kali as a symbol of Climate Change

The Age of Kali, Kathleen Thoma, monotype, 14.5X17.5 in

The Age of Kali, Kathleen Thoma, monotype & chine colle, 14.5x 17.5 in

Art, Earth Day & Climate Change

While creating an entry for the upcoming show; Sweet Earth/Bitter Earth at the Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock, CA; the myth and stories of the Hindu Goddess Kali, jumped into my mind. 

The theme this year is our relationship to the environment. And for me, that is the heartbreaking news of climate change which is everywhere around us and has been ongoing for a long while. According to recent UN reports, we are nearly out of time. We have about twelve years perhaps.

I have always seen climate change in symbolic forms as if it were happening through a series of images from a dream. This dream which is shared by all of the life on our planet; is either going to be changed by all of us working together or it will continue growing into a nightmare. 

My image shows the “ruins” of our lives and civilizations in the upper left, while also showing the “forest of life” to the right. So the image can be read in either direction. The question becomes: Are we going to towards the ruins of our planet’s ecosystem? Or are we going to rebirth our planet?  And while Kali dances between the two possible futures; at her feet, we see the poisons that we have already left behind on earth, the plastic, the death, the radiation. 

The Hindu Goddess Kali is a complex, ancient symbol of change, death and rebirth, healing, cycles of time, and opportunity. Although most traditional images show her only in her terrible death aspect, she is also seen as the mother, who gives us the courage to hope while she helps cut away ignorance with her wicked sword. 

The Los Angeles Printmaking Society is a national non-profit artist-run organization. The juror, Marion Estes has selected many wonderful hand-pulled prints for this exhibition.  I hope you will see our LA Printmaking Spring Show at Eagle Rock from April 5-April 30, which in conjunction with many other Earth Day-related activities. 

Update: 

 I have a few photos to share from the opening.

Exhibition Signage

2019-Sweet Earth-Bitter Earth exhibition signage

The Age of Kali, Kathleen Thoma

The Age of Kali, Kathleen Thoma

gallery view of Sweet Earth/Bitter Earth, Center for the Arts at Eagle Rock, LA

Gallery view of Sweet Earth/Bitter Earth, Center for the Arts at Eagle Rock, LA

link to info on exhibition