The Fifth Element

The fifth element show postcardArtists Arianna Bara, Pat Merriman and Pat Lloyd join their creative energies to present a show called “The Fifth Element.”

What is the Fifth Element?  Each artist describes it a little differently – void, spirit, thought or path, creative energy, inventiveness, intuition, the “here” or center, a signal that the soul is speaking.

For Pat Lloyd it began with a journey to the Portland Japanese Gardens last fall. “The guide pointed out a large Japanese stone lantern and described the 5 traditional elements in Japanese Buddhism: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Void. I was most intrigued by this Fifth Element of Void.  Void represents spirit, thought, creative energy and inventiveness. In the Navaho culture, their fifth direction (element) represents the ‘here,’ or the center.”

This past year has been a struggle for Lloyd to find her way through some physical challenges that temporarily limited her ability to turn wood and she needed to find new ways to express her creativity. Woodturning was set aside, and photography took the lead. Then, says Lloyd, “a chance encounter led to my discovery of Kumihimo braiding and braided jewelry design. Once I let go of the need to control the uncontrollable, I was able to release the creative energy and inventiveness resident in my inner spirit, in that Fifth Element of Void. The discovery and exploration of the ancient art of Kumihimo braiding gave me a new voice.”

“In this new year, I am back to woodturning, with a renewed energy and passion. And the discovery of Kumihimo that energized that creative emptiness last year has taken on a life of its own. Kumihimo design is filled with endless possibilities.  Of course, photography continues to influence my everyday life. Some days it is just hard to know what to do first, it’s such a blessing.”

Metalsmith Arianna Bara, brings together all five elements in her jewelry. “The metal is extracted from the earth, air (wind) is needed  to fuel the flame (fire), which is used to connect metal to metal. Water is used to cool metal after heating. The fifth element, creative energy or inspiration, is what the metalsmith contributes to the process. ” My pieces for the Fifth Element show are inspired by the five elements and the characteristics attributed to each. The Fire element, for example, represents energy and passion, and the stones and metal textures I used in my piece reflect that.”

Arianna describes one of the pieces for the show: “In the pendant I created for Spirit, I paired a glowing champagne pearl with an agua nueva agate, and set them on a swirling sterling silver arched background. To me this piece is about the energy of the creative process.”

For painter Pat Merriman, the Fifth Element is a signal of the soul speaking. “It seems to come at the beginnings – like a blank canvas or a fresh sheet of paper; or during transitions of anxiety about which path to take – like shape versus color decisions. And finally, perhaps, when an artist knows a piece is finished. Maybe it is also the “Aha” moment that mindfully moves me, the artist, on a new path.”

Her reading led Merriman to the philosophy of ancient Chinese poet and philosopher Lao-Tzu, who wrote: “Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is. Study the natural order of things and work with it rather than against it, for to try to change what is only sets up resistance…. If we watch carefully, we will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we stop “trying,” if we stop putting in so much extra effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. …In other words: Simply be.”

Says Merriman “Often when painting, I get lost in time – in the zone – which is the process of painting without inner criticism. On the following day comes the critique, though often it is minor: redrawing some lines, heightening some color splashes, accenting or softening edges. When, on day one or two, I play with colors and shapes, I am in the Fifth Element.”

Opening Reception

May 30



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