Friday, May 30, 2014

Magical Book Launch

Otherwild in Echo Park is hosting a Book Launch with Maria CalderonErin Rivera Merriman and Carly Jo Morgan this Saturday with Jacqueline Suskin's "Poem Store."

All three publications were created from a spiritually sacred place within each artist whose intention is to inspire and empower. Rachel from Otherwild along with the authors (each in different stages of motherhood) shared sneak peeks and insights into their latest project, as well as their amazing artwork beyond the books.

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Growing up in Kansas City, Maria was immersed in South American culture and Latin folk music through her father, a Peruvian Andean folk musician. She studied painting and taught drawing at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Presently, Maria is traveling wherever the land calls her, teaching yoga along the way. I love her ability to work within different mediums (painting, video, installation, clothing, performance) to create time based narratives – addressing the past, present and temporal to engage the viewer in energetic social exchanges. Her purpose "is to promote personal reflection of what our life constitutes and uphold a connection to the human soul through intentional art practices and gatherings."

The Radder : Otherwild Book Launch - Maria Calderon

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Maria's book, "How You Made Mama a Magical Mystical Miracle" is a conversation of gratitude for our children and the out of body sensory experience they reveal to us. She explains that child-guided birth is a psychedelic journey – a series of altered states of consciousness spiraling through the senses. "Our children unleash questions of progression and replay our own life journey while residing in our wombs, inviting us to grow along with them... children awaken the dormant energy within us and bring clarity to our ego-based blocks – but only if we choose to face them."

Maria is currently in the final month of pregnancy. "This book," she says "is a very direct reflection of my experience of gestation in regards to the sensory experience the child reveals to you. Each illustration represents a different sense-based experience or emotion that becomes compromised during this time." The book is a wonderful way for a mother to start or continue a dialogue with her child. Although a mother physically creates her child, the book intends to bring power and respect back to the child – and through pregnancy and motherhood, the child actually helps the mother grow, prosper and become more aware of herself.

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Raised on a 100-acre Christmas tree farm in rural Connecticut, Erin has studied medicinal plants and women's health in-depth. She taught art to Brooklyn teens, volunteered as an interfaith Chaplain in a maximum security NYC prison and organized women's ceremonial circles and retreats with indigenous teachers - often with the emphasis on wellness through the philosophy of Wise Woman Healing Tradition. Currently, Erin lives in a cliffside cottage in San Diego, California with her husband and young son, Moses Arrow and works to raise awareness of the medicinal benefits of Kava root. 

Erin is also the founder of the multi-dimensional collaborative experiment, Active Culture Family. Current partners include: 

Cover art by Elena of Everything is Medicine, a Summer 2014 mix CD of incredible (understatement) artists. //

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experimental third eye opening technique from Dream School

"Starseed Survival Guide - Volume 1" is the first chapter in a series by Erin that serves as a "what-to-expect" guide for the early stages of individuation from our family of origin. "It was conceived as a remedy for teen depression by countering some of the cultural programming that interferes with our ability to experience joy by depicting 'growing up' as an ongoing and highly personal inner journey of healing and self-discovery."

Erin admits that the book is not for everyone, but can be a lifeline for others – speeding up the learning curve to cut through some of the illusions of life and seeking the truth. The book is presented in a "lighthearted way... with the sincere desire for those coming up the path to know that they are not alone, and that although it may feel like it is taking forever, help is on the way."

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photo by Heather Culp

Most new mothers I know tend to wrap-it-up before their due date. Carly managed to not only put together The Mothership Show right before her daughter's birth, but also just completed her first book in the blurry days postpartum.

Like Maria and Erin, Carly fluidly moves from one medium to another in her artwork: jewelry, furniture, objects, painting, textiles, music – all of it represents the dream and freedom to create. Her aesthetic "explores the trans-dimensional psychedelic realm through campy mythical landscapes."

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"The Sacred Door" by Carly is a magical quest inspired by her daughter, Cookie when she was a seedling in the womb. It is a visual journey of an inquisitive soulmate duo learning the importance of manifestation. Two canine companions, The Boo Boo and Wings Livinright, set out on a cosmic expedition to find a place where all dreams come true. Along the way, they encounter a series of mystical characters who offer clues and challenges that propel the pups to far-off lands and places deep within themselves. An epic poem about companionship, faith, perseverance and the power of nature, "The Sacred Door" is a children's book for all ages of the New Age.

The concept came about through Carly's love of making songs and "cheesy rhymes" - often having full conversations in rhyme with her husband. Upon learning of her pregnancy, Carly began writing a poem for their daughter to share all the life lessons she's learned. The two starring pups are the same dogs Cookie will have as companions growing up. What an amazing gift!

I have had a preview of the book and each page unfolds as a joyful surprise – sounds totally dorky, but it's truly pure and innocent delight. Visually, it unites the diverse facets of her art into magical and radical collages.

Collaboration is a running thread in Carly's work that plays an important part of life – "because everything is all about LOVE." It is also the reason for opening The Sacred Door Gallery (now closed) in Venice – "to draw in a community of creative friends to inspire one another." And I completely feel the same in her sentiment about Los Angeles, "everyone has open arms and wants to collaborate... I feel very at home."

Below are the collaborators of The Sacred Door Book:
Heather Culp - photography (along with Carly) 
Elena Stonaker - costumes
Matthew Morgan - model, "Lord of Diligence" & Carly's husband with a furniture line in the works with Carly 

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Much gratitude to the lovely ladies for sharing your vision and a preview. I already have a list of many friends to give, as the books are treasures too beautiful a concept to keep to oneself. 

Book Launch with Maria Calderon, Erin Rivera Merriman and Carly Jo Morgan
Sat May 31st, 5 - 7 pm

all images courtesy of the artists

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