A Solo Gallery Show by Teresa Mihalko Harbert
April 2 through May 7, 2017
at the Art & Soul Gallery of Oak Hills Church
1100 Blue Ravine Road, Folsom CA 95630
Probably the number one question I am asked about this art called pysanky is, “Are they real eggs?” The answer? Yes, they are very real eggs. God created an engineering marvel with those shells, sturdy enough to withstand the mama bird’s weight as she keeps them warm before they hatch and yet designed so the baby bird can still peck its way through to life on the outside.
Over the years I have accidentally broken eggs at every stage in this creative wax-and-dye process. From exploding an egg while emptying it, to smashing one as I reach for it on my work area, to bobbling another as I remove layers of wax, and even dropping one or two as I proudly tried to admire my finished work of art.
Frustration does not adequately describe my feelings each time this happens. And after mourning the loss and cursing my clumsiness I eventually reach for another egg and begin all over again.
This solo exhibition show has been a long time in coming. It is the joy of creation and the pain of loss all tangled up in thoughts and eggshells. Let me take you on my art and faith journey from the initial idea to the actual show you will see in the Art & Soul gallery.
It all starts with my love for tiny details. I actually crave the quiet hours alone required to create these eggs. That’s my time to push away the busyness of the “regular” world and focus on one small thing at a time. And once in a while as I work God gives me an idea to ponder. This time it started with the eggshells themselves.
The show title, Fragile Canvas, came quickly and I knew that somehow I needed to demonstrate it, not just tell about it. I decided to create an egg and then break it on purpose for a photo for the show’s title page. Creating the egg was a joy, but I was surprised at how reluctant I felt when the time came to break it. It was much more emotional than I expected.
I finally got out my camera and readied the photo shoot area. Then I took a few minutes to marvel at the designs and color choices on my finished egg’s surface. This goose egg had been such a pleasure to work on because it was unusually smooth. Most goose eggs have small bumps and pits on their surface so the wax lines appear to waver as they move across the egg. Dyes don’t always adhere as brightly either but this particular egg behaved perfectly every step of the way. Looking at the finished egg I started to doubt myself, did I really need to break it?
I wrestled with my decision quite a while before bringing the egg down sharply onto my desk. Hearing that distinctive “crack” actually sent a shiver up my spine and I felt an immense sense of loss. I had changed that egg forever with one swift movement of my hand.
As I inspected the damage and gently picked up the pieces, I marveled at the beauty of the egg, even in its broken state. This is where God again gently spoke, reminding me that our lives are also fleeting and must be handled with great care. We are all made of fragile canvas and yet even in our broken state, we still have beauty.
Fragile canvases indeed.
Secrets of the Enchanted Forest
Show and Sale February 25-26, 2017
Seminars February 23-26. 2017
Crowne Plaza Northeast
5321 Date Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95841
The 2017 Show is fast approaching. I’ll be teaching two classes and selling eggs and egg jewelry in the showroom. Take a look at the show website here.
And see here for more information on the beginning and Trypillian classes I’ll be teaching.
Back in 2010 I had a solo art show of my eggs in the Art & Soul Gallery of our church. It was a huge leap of faith for me because it was the first time I really connected my art with my walk with God.
It ran throughout Lent, which is traditionally forty days of preparation for the Easter celebration of Christ’s Resurrection. Fasting and prayer often accompany this time of waiting. It is a season for reflection and taking stock. A time of soul-searching and repentance.
As I gave this thought and prayer, I recalled my childhood experiences with Lent. We usually chose to give something up as a reminder to pray and to look forward to the Easter celebration to come. It took a while but gradually words bubbled to the surface to express my Lenten experience. Fasting, prayer, listening, repentance. But the story didn’t stop there. At Easter fasting becomes abundance, prayer becomes hope, listening becomes growth and repentance becomes forgiveness. God’s story of love and transformation became more real now that I had words to express it.
Now I wanted to experience and express visually what that time of preparation meant to me. So the big question…how in the world do I take this colorful, traditional art done on eggs and give the viewer a sense of my own journey of faith? Eventually this thought crossed my mind. What if I gave up the use of color on these eggs? What if I only worked in black and white? My next thought was, “Are you crazy?”
I knew my designs would have to be strong enough to stand alone, without the distraction of color. How in the world do I create interest using only lines? I’d never tried this before and I was pretty sure I’d be able to do a few but could I create enough to fill the whole show? And what if I couldn’t come up with enough material in time? What if I failed? Fear, self-doubt, and a sense of the enormity of this task sidetracked me for a while.
As the days ticked by I kept hearing a soft voice say, “Just make one egg.” So I did.
“That wasn’t so hard,” I thought. And so I made another…and another…and pretty soon the design ideas flowed until chicken, duck, goose, and finally an ostrich egg all in black and white covered every surface of my workroom.
The show looked great in the gallery but I have no idea if anyone understood what I was trying to say with these eggs. And it doesn’t matter because the important part of the show for me was what I learned along the way. Sometimes God doesn’t give you the big picture. Sometimes you just have to start the journey and not focus on the goal. And sometimes you will find a joy in that journey that surprises you.
Sunday September 8, 2013
Veterans Memorial Center Theater and Community Hall
203 East 14th Street
Davis, California 95616
Come see Ukrainian arts, crafts, dance, music, and food at the Ukrainian Festival celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Ukrainian Heritage Club of Northern California.
I will be there with a wide variety of my pysanky for sale so stop by and say hi!
Here is a link for more details.
My eggs go formal at the Kennedy Gallery, 1114 20th Street,Sacramento,CA,95811. These black and white pysanky feature a wide variety of designs without the distraction of color.
And if you’re looking for an excuse to get out and about, Second Saturday Artwalk happens this weekend and provides a great opportunity to explore the art galleries in midtown.
A gallery show has a lifecycle of its own. First comes the spark of an idea…and then hours or days of contemplating the possibilities, working out the plan in my mind. Soon I’m taking a few first steps of actual work on the eggs. This is the fun part. Yes, this will work! I am convinced I can do it. More quiet hours at my desk steadily applying fine lines of wax or waiting patiently for the dye color to be just right. This is going to be a wonderful show, I can tell already.
Usually about midway into the process come the first seeds of self-doubt. Are my designs strong enough? Did I choose the right theme? Can I complete enough work in this theme? Will I finish enough eggs by the deadline? What if I can’t do it? Am I really an artist or am I fooling myself? What if I don’t make the deadline? Should I just give up now? Why did I ever agree to this gallery? What am I doing on this earth?
Okay, take a breath, I remind myself. You can do this. Remember to focus on one egg at a time. One line at a time. The work continues, slowly but surely. As the deadline looms ever closer I realize I’m going to make it after all. The completed eggs silently cheer me on and even in the final frenzy of setting up the show with all its time consuming details, I feel a mystifying satisfaction. I know deep in my soul that I am an artist because God created me that way. And it is good.
Now to start my next show.