Christina Chalmers: Love Letters to the Nature

“You are the fiery life of divine substance, you blaze above the beauty of the fields, you shine in the waters, you burn in sun, moon and stars.” — Hildegard Von Bingen
“In archetypal symbolism, clothing represents persona, a kind of camouflage which lets others know only what we wish them to know about us and nothing more. We are often “clothed” in our own private illusions of ourselves…power, money, success, pleasure, but there is really no substance to this “clothing”; it only cloaks what is deep inside and invisible…
the creative, unique and mysterious inner self. This work is about that with which we clothe ourselves and the “human divinity” or true self which lies hidden beneath.
During the winters, I live on a farm in the south of France in a wilderness area of
flamingos and wild white horses near the Mediterranean Sea. My studio is in an old barn, and there, I found a trunk filled with carefully folded, very old clothes. They were delicate and all hand-sewn, with lace and embroidery done in painfully small and labored stitching.
I also found an old journal with fragile, transparent pages dated one hundred years ago. On and near the farm, I took photographs of things in nature, things especially fragile and vulnerable. I printed my photographs onto some of the old fabrics and the pages of the journal and made drawings of sacred geometry on others to put into the paintings. These things inspired me and have become a part of my work in recent years.
Everyday, as I opened the trunk, I felt somewhat like an archeologist violating an Egyptian tomb, and as I worked with the fabrics, carefully undoing the tiny stitches, I imagined the lives of the women who had made them. After working, I reverently re-folded each cloth and placed it in the trunk as if each were a raiment, a holy vestment, a shroud, and I felt as if I had somehow participated in both the grief and beauty of someone’s life.
Each of my paintings is a small, personal epic. Each garment image is a cloak, which shelters a universe luminous, spacious, incalculably rich and truly vulnerable. Finally, for me, there is this question: “Does the light descend from the sky or rise out of us?”

AUTHOR: Christina Chalmers