10" x 3" x 14" cyanotype on muslin and balsa wood, 2015

After experiencing an Italian adventure, I became fascinated with the sky and shrines. I hiked several sanctuary trails from Monterosso to Riomaggiore, Italy.

Along the hike from fishing town to fishing town, I scaled steep vineyards and olive groves confronting weathered shrines of the Virgin Mary along the way. What I resonated with most were the tokens of gratitude left behind by others on the pilgrimage: shells, messages, candles, fresh flowers, dead flowers. Presence. As I turned away from the shrines to see what Mary was looking at, I saw the deep blue of the sea and the sky; they blended together. A big blueness that enveloped everything. It enveloped me.

Once I got back to Greensboro I knew I had to make my own shrines, but had no clue how to decide on my own deity or icon. After chewing on this idea for a while, I decided to make sky shrines. If I could honor something bigger than myself that I believe in, it’s the blueness of the sky. At the time, I was reading a book by Rebecca Solnit and in it she referenced the blueness of the sky. It’s always in the distance, always receding. The distance is unfathomable and vast yet it’s safe and comforting. I’ve been attached to this connection: being small in relation to the bigness of blue sky and being comforted in the openness of unknowing.  In order to get the shade of blue I was after, I used a cyanotype process, using the sun to develop the muslin. I made two shrines wrapped in this cyanotype. I wrapped them with the sky. One shrine was open and empty, the other was closed and it had a shiny, brass mail slot. This Mantra Mailbox referenced the function of shrines: holders, keepers, senders. Shrines hold special things that we cannot see, but believe in.

Sky Shrine and Mantra Mailbox, 2015 Cyanotype linen and brass on pine.