art, Collage, inspiration, Maria Berrio, myths, Nature, writing
In a novel I’m writing I include an origin myth of how the isthmus of Central America was created. It’s fictional but inspired by the Mayan myths I had been reading. My protagonist reads a myth about the heroine for which she was named. The book is full of gorgeous imagery and she describes some of her favorites: The rivers, trees, and flowers flowing out of Malenque’s body, Balanque with the jaguars and monkeys and macaws rising from his. Xite with her flowing hair and fish-like tail looking anxiously over her shoulder as she swims away from the Demon-Bird Dragon. . . . . She wonders if this is where her love of art was born.
So imagine my delight when I discovered the lush collages of Maria Berrio, inspired by her own reading of myths from her native Columbia. In an interview for the Georgia Review she says:
I am deeply influenced by surrealism and magical realism, so some of my favorite classic South American authors are Borges, Neruda, and Márquez. But much of my work has, of late, been influenced by oral traditions, as well as the rituals, customs, and beliefs of South America.
For example, a tale I explored in my 2017 piece Aluna references the creator figure and “Great Mother” of the Kogi people from my native Colombia. . . . .The painting depicts a female version of the mama priest in the moments just after she is brought out of the cave. Her senses are flooded with the intense beauty of the world she is charged with protecting. It is a fragile world, but she accepts her destiny.
Barrio creates her collages from hand-made papers, often with natural motifs, from the global south, such as Nepal, India, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, and Brazil. A writer from Praxis International Art describes her work this way:
Her careful and laborious assemblage of torn pieces of paper is a way of creating a transcendental space/time where myths and dreams can be told; among them, the story of the all too human yearning to recover the treasures of the lost garden of childhood, which echoes the longing for Paradise Lost.
Myths reveal the great archetypes from which the world’s art and literature and religions are evolved, and therefore from which histories and cultures arise. They can teach us great things about ourselves and this world into which we are embedded.
Susan Richey said:
Truly beautiful paintings and an equally beautiful myth you are contributing.. Thank you.
My only suggestion is to change the “sense” of the myth’s storytelling. Your protagonist would have “heard” the story of her name’s etymology from an elder or possibly “seen” it painted out on the inner walls of a temple. She would not have “read” it, as codices were not invented yet.
Thank you, Susan, I appreciate that. I know that quote form my book is a little confusing, having no context. But the protagonist is living in modern times and reading a story-book about the myth and relates (through the narrator) which images are her favorites. She would actually be thinking to herself about her favorites, and I’m relaying that to the reader. A bit convoluted in my describing it here, I know 🙂
Writing to Freedom said:
These are delightful collages from Maria Berrio. Your book sounds very interesting Deborah. We have much to learn from myths and native cultures.
Thank you, Brad. I agree.
Writing to Freedom said:
I look forward to reading your book!
Thanks so much. That means a lot to me.
AT SUNNYSIDE - WHERE TRUTH AND BEAUTY MEET said:
Extraordinary! Thank you for introducing me to Maria Berrio. 🙂
You are so welcome! I love sharing artwork with others. I’m glad I ran across her myself.
These are really vivid and heart-provoking. I love them 🙂
So glad! Thanks for letting me know.
Pingback: Maria Berrio: The Celebration (2012) – At Sunnyside – Where Truth and Beauty Meet
Thank you for sharing this with your readers!
laura bruno lilly said:
“Myths reveal the great archetypes from which the world’s art and literature and religions are evolved, and therefore from which histories and cultures arise. They can teach us great things about ourselves and this world into which we are embedded.”
Yep-I’ve been bumbling around trying to find a good ‘read’. Even favorite authors aren’t making the grade! However, re-reading and also discovering other stories in the realm of mythology might just be the way to go. Thanks for the unintentional suggestion, Deborah.
Those art-collages are so rich!
Interesting how often we are on the same wave-length. Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth in an old favorite. But recently I started reading the Percy Jackson kids series based on the Greek myths with my granddaughter, and we had fun comparing the “real” myths with what’s in the book. So I figured I needed to brush up, and bought one of Stephen Fry’s books on the Greek myths to read. Haven’t done so yet, so not sure how good it is, but I’ll let you know if it is, or you can let me know if you find a good one on myths.
Pingback: Maria Berrio: The Lovers 4 (2016) – At Sunnyside – Where Truth and Beauty Meet
These are super gorgeous works of art. Gosh, I love collage. The details here, and the colors really draw me in.
I’m glad you enjoyed these, Luanne. I love collage too.
Coming very late to this, but I have listened to Fry reading his books on the Audible app and enjoyed them very much. But they are more of an almost comic, light-hearted approach to myths – not sure how much he would appeal to more serious people.