As with yantras or mandalas, mystical symbols in Eastern spirituality, or the Rose Window at Notre Dame, the materials with which the work of Melody Lane is made are inert, yet, once combined they become alive and vibrant. Her windows series is so striking and I would love to see one of her outdoors installations, to experience it at different times of day or in varying weather. There is something very enticing about the idea of a window in an outdoor setting. It brings to mind something that I see when I across the border between the U.S. and Canada near Vancouver. There is a public art sculpture of window frames at the Peace Arch crossing, on the U.S. side. I love looking through it while in the car lineup, noticing the greenery or sky surrounding it, how it plays on perception. Melody Lane also uses a window motif to great effect. The description of her work, found on the Artful Home site, is as follows:
My art encompasses clay and glass. The clay is smoke-fired to evoke a stone-like finish. The glass allows the light to create its own fire, changing as the light of day changes. This combination of earth and fire uses mandala patterns of old. My aim is to bring the motifs of ancient cultures into a contemporary form.
The Artful Home site also describes Lane’s method of production. She makes clay disks with a slab roller, then carves negative space, after which she fires then varnishes them. Next, she cuts stained glass to fit and places it. Lastly, she mounts the work on a painted metal stand, after which it is installed…and meaning assigned. Windows are curious things, often taken for granted. The glass can be completely see-through yet distorted, like with the heritage windows in our house. When you slowly move across the room in front of them, what you see beyond seems to shift or change slightly. It toys with the idea of actuality, an idea addressed by Buddhist thought, existentialist philosophy and quantum physics. Windows can also be metaphors and symbols. This brings to mind the Johari Window. The name sounds South Asian but it is actually a fusion of the names of the creators of the concept, American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham, who developed the model in 1955. I learned about the Johari Window as a communications major during my undergrad years. The concept deals with how one relates to the world and knowledge of self. The model is represented, visually, as a window with four panes, each denoting an aspect of Luft’s and Ingham’s concept. Today, this tool is applied in several fields, including psychology, business, and education. My professor taught us about it when we learned about interpersonal communication. She exposed us to the Johari Window, ideas and theories about self-concept, how we see ourselves, how we think others see us, how we are actually seen by others, in addition to the parts of ourselves that remain hidden or unknown. So, while this take on windows seems to have taken me far afield of Lane’s work, it really hasn’t because she also deals with the realm of Big Questions. Hers are of a different order, though, as Lane’s artist statement makes it clear that her influences include ancient civilizations and Eastern, Western, and indigenous spirituality. She states
The study of clay encompasses the study of ancient civilizations, as clay has been used in all cultures in functional as well as figurative forms. One of the core aspects of working with clay is to “center” on the wheel, and the use of rounded, or circular shapes.
Many cultures have expanded the idea of centering with their use of mandalas. Mandalas, an ancient Sanskrit word meaning “circle, or center point”, are historically interpreted as a symbol for God, the Universe, totality or wholeness, from which all energy and life begins…