The Journey to Inspiration...
Summer Solstice has arrived. The Pendulum of the Year has swung and now the longest day is upon us. Luxuriate in the long hot Night as the Sun reaches it Zenith with confident Brilliance. Reflect the fullness of Life all around by coming together in delicious community, Dancing abundantly around bonfires, or in the luscious solitude of self care. This Solar Blessing Marks the turn into days waning again, and the sun’s sacrifice into the earth’s bounty of Grapes & Grain. Touch the Earth and feel the warmth nourishing the future. -Excerpt from THRIFTWITCH Vol 5. Illuminating Litha by Khiri Lee
These were the words I read on Summer Solstice in 2021 during the Creativity Alive Mmmwhah! to Flagstaff Celebration.
Last year I had the opportunity to experience the Summer Solstice twice in one year for the first time. The first was the one I am familiar with, the middle of June in the Northern Hemisphere. I was invited to Perform with Creativity Alive for their Summer Solstice offering on the peak of Flagstaff, in an amphitheater dancing with friends and strangers. It was a peak experience of my year! As part of the performance/ritual, I created a great golden disk for the center of the space. It became an anchor for the evening. We danced around it. We danced upon it. We sang to it. It reflected the glory of the Sun on the longest day of the year. I knew I would take the disk home and it would become a canvas for a new work of art, infused with the joy of that moment.
The Second opportunity to enjoy Litha, Summer Solstice, was in December.
I was invited to visit Brazil for a friends wedding. I was honored to be a part of such a special celebration, and my friends were the most amazing hosts, sharing all the best parts of their hometown, Niterói. This was my first time traveling below the Equator, and it was a wild miracle to travel from Colorado Winter snow to tropical Summer heat, and back again in the span of 11 days. I brought hundreds of painted paper feathers, to capture the rays of that southern light, with me. I watched the Sun dip below the horizon from the beach on my second Solstice. Once I returned home, the papers feathers were woven onto the canvas that was infused with energy of the Creativity Alive event.
I am still curious to see how this Double Sun year will affect me. As a witch the turning of the season is an important part of my grounding, and I missed Yule (winter solstice). This opportunity to soak in the zenith of the sun twice with paint and ephemera, dance and celebration inspires a flirtation with mythic reality. And then to integrate that experience through creating an art object that is both a memory of my Litha Journey as well as a reflection on the power and beauty of Solstice feels miraculous. (The final piece is at the bottom of this post.)
The Creative Process...
The large disk had been sitting in storage unused for several years. I had picked it up from a thrift store for $6 on an impulse. It barely fit in my car, and after a moment of doubt in the darkening parking lot, a kind stranger helped me wrestle it into my tiny car. When I was invited to brainstorm the offerings for the Creativity Alive performance I knew it should be there. I dusted off the giant disk and spray painted it gold.
The actions we perform with objects create the stories that give them power.
Before the disk was just a round piece of particle board, but through intention it became a miniature sun. Through the ritual of dance and song and laughter and art-making this humble disk was charged with the delight of that moment, a community coming together in spite of circumstances that had kept us apart the year before.
Once home, I began dreaming what the rest of the painting would become. My animal ally for 2021 was the Golden Swan, partly inspired from the 2020 Prismic Vision event, and partly inspired from the card I drew at New Year's 2021. This influenced my decision to create a spiraling feather motif.
I will surrender to the flow of the spiral and trust what I am shown Beauty, Light & Grace. Beautiful, Majestic, Powerful, Loyal Swan! -Excerpt from 52 Feathers Vol 5. SWAN by Khiri Lee
During Open Studios in October I began generating the ephemera in earnest. I stamped hundreds of golden and yellow feathers.
I "paint" with a combination of cut and stamped shapes and acrylic monoprints created using a gelli-plate. I build up layers of texture, thinking about how background, middle ground, and foreground will interrelate to create a cohesive whole.
When I was beginning I thought other imagery like bees or flowers would be woven into the piece. As I moved along I decided the feathers reflected the rays of light from the Sun, so made the switch to only using the feather motif.
The bulk of the ephemera were feathers in varying shades of yellow and gold printed onto waxed deli paper. It took a fair amount of time to cut out every feather! These were the images I brought to Brazil to be charged by the Southern Hemisphere Summer.
Once home from my travels in December I completed the painting in three days.
I wanted to create while the influence of my second summer was still thrumming inside me and imbued in the golden feathers. I also had a deadline for the perfect local exhibition to debut the finished piece!
This is the largest painting I have ever completed (that wasn't a mural). I love the process and the depth it creates. I love seeing all the little pieces of paper sorted and pregnant with possibility. I rarely use every piece generated for a painting in a project, and so leftover ephemera blends into future works, creating moments of continuity, connecting the dots from painting to painting. This is where the #magic happens.
The Completed Piece...
Litha (Summer Solstice) Invocation Painting
Acrylic, Paper Ephemera, Magic 2021
My final painting of 2021. Painted with intention from summer solstice to summer solstice. It is the largest painting I have completed and it is now one of my most favorite creations to date.
Gratitude to @creativityaliveboulder for the amazing Solstice at Flagstaff event that instilled this painting with purpose and beauty. Thank you to @firstchurch_boulder for the Reflections show which gave me the focus to complete this piece. Thank you to @naiara_doherty and @julian.stenzel.martins for encouraging and inviting me to visit Brazil to experience the magick found there, making this double Litha year possible. 💛🌞✨
This Painting is on view at Reflections: Art for the Soul at the First United Methodist Church in Boulder.
Come see Litha as well as art from 14 other local artists at the Opening Reception on Friday February 4th, 2022 from 5:30-8:30pm. FUMC is at 1421 Spruce St, Boulder, a block north of the Pearl Street Walking mall. I will be there for part of the evening to soak in the creativity and share about the piece. The exhibition will be on view through April 24th.