The Wheel of Life


posted on 12th of july, 2008

Lately, I've blogged about my mother's death and my resistance to photographing again. After struggling with mandala shaped fractals tonight, it came to me that my block might be another reaction to the stress of loss. The last two years have been hard emotionally. We moved. My husband changed jobs and had to travel. I was ill and had to have surgery. Our daughter was ill. We moved again. We lost a much loved pet. My mother died. Maybe I'm being too hard on myself. Partly, I started selling my work as stock to fill the time gap caused by the move. My time has been filled digitally rather than with cooking for my family and friends.


The fractals have increasingly become mandala shaped. As I design them I get the feeling that I had as a child when I'd come home from school and hang out in the kitchen watching my mother and grandmother make dinner. They baked bread almost every week. Our kitchen had a set of steps, and everyone sat on those steps. A favorite day of mine was to come home during the winter to fresh bread and homemade vegetable soup. It gave me a secure feeling that was often missing during the school day. It was a feeling that life would always stay the same. The kitchen would always be warm.


Of course this was an illusion that vanished as I grew up, but lately it's come back to me more and more as I work on my images. Something in me is going back to that time and trying to express the feeling visually. In the face of extreme change, our minds must go back to our most secure periods. It gives us something to hang on to until we start to feel better. Visually the mandala shape expresses this for me. Hopefully this will be a commercially viable shape, too. Taking these life experiences and turning them into something that people will pay for and use, somehow makes me feel as if I can use my life and turn it into more than just memories or even art. Writers, musicians, and all sorts of artists have been doing this for centuries. We're really at the beginning of the internet. The shape of stock photography and illustration really isn't formed yet. It's an exciting time to try to get a life or work out there digitally, artistically, and commercially.


Pat Ballard

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Photo credits: Patricia L. Ballard.

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