On 19th of February, Chinese celebrated their new year. They left what they called horse year behind and officially entered into goat year. Their calendar years are always colorful and different in their tradition. I do not have in depth knowledge about Zodiac signs but I find them inspiring.
Chinese calendar has twelve animals associated with each astrological sign. These animal signs representing the 12 years Chinese Zodiac cycle. People born in the same year have same animal signs such as snake, rabbit, rat, dragon, goat, horse etc. So your birth year tells you more than your age. It tells you about your character. It is believed that a special relationship exists between animals and humans in the Chinese Zodiac. For example, snake is related with health and healing so that 2013 was said to bring healing to most people. Indeed, Snake Year brought many of my friends and me healing through that year.
I read in an article that Buddha wanted to create a calendar and asked animals to gather around him. Twelve animals appeared to him that he named 12 years after them. This story and relating humans with animals fascinated me. As my art is about nature, animals and their relation to humans, seeing this kind of association in China starting from Han Dynasty grabbed my attention. In different traditions and cultures, I see the great importance placed upon relationship between animals and humans. Especially in shamanism, animal spirits are called upon to guide and heal people through their spiritual path.
Couple of years ago I went into a small souvenir shop. There were many small statues, objects and stones brought from eastern countries for sale. Shop owner was an interesting lady. We started to have a nice conversation about her visit to those countries such as Taiwan, China, Hong-Kong and more. She started giving me information about her objects’ meaning. At that instant I realized a poster with rabbits hung at her wall. I pointed at it and asked her its meaning. She told me that it was a Chinese calendar for the rabbit year. I took pictures of every each page and decided to use them in my artwork.
I like to read books on different cultures, beliefs, traditions, and methods to apply them into my artwork. As I read those spiritual books, I have realized that in every culture nature has a huge relationship with humans. Animals and plants have been used in many different rituals and prayers. Interestingly, they all have almost same meanings in different cultures all around the world. So I decided to create my own symbolic meaning for them. As I used dragons in the dragon year, I related them to Quan Yin, Isis or Mother Mary depending on their use in history.
In my new series of work, I am using animals, symbols and additionally stars. I believe we might come across goats. I will see how it will inspire me this year. I am hoping it to bring us a good year filled with energy.