While visiting one of my favorite websites, Bioregional Animism, and its accompanying blog, I saw some striking sculpture by Martin Bridge, an artist and teacher who lives in western Massachusetts. His website shows the range of his work — scultpure, installations, drawings, paintings, theater design, book illustration. He is a mask maker and a drummer, one of the founders of the Ritual Arts Collective, and he is a second-generation art teacher, head of the Visual Art Department at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter High School, where he teaches Visual Art and Theater Design and Production.
His artwork is largely at the service of his animism and its expression in ritual; his masks, for example, are designed not for display but rather to be used in ceremonies, especially at festivals such as Burning Man and Spiritfire. His work, he says, strives to celebrate the sacredness inherent in nature, the power of place, consciousness in all things, and it seeks to cultivate a sense of mystery and magic in our experience of the world. Bridge sees the theater in particular as a space within which to synthesize a variety of artistic forms and bring them into a living experience. His work in visual communication in the theater has greatly influenced his work in communal ceremonies, where visual elements serve as a means of focusing ritual intention.
Here are some examples of his work:
|Watchers. Created for the first Spiritfire Festival as represenations of the unseen beings around us — the ancestors and spirits of place.||Guardian. Influenced by two pieces by Bridge's great uncle and father, and completed for his daughter immediately following her birth.|
|Forest Spirit. Mask made of wood, stone, fiber, wire, beads, and horsehair.||Masks for the Burning Man Festival.|