Epiphanies have amazing effects on us. Sometimes we choose not to heed them. Sometimes we change our lives because of them.
I can think of some places where these small epiphanies seep into our fast-paced lives, but none more vibrant than markets with their astounding biodiversity and colorful produce.
From the traditional mercados in the Peruvian Andes to the unique street markets in Asia, you don’t need to be a naturalist to see that markets express the earth’s fertility and abundance.
The many ways of seeing come to play in markets.
Seen through a child’s eyes, a market is a place of wonder. Seen through an adult’s eyes, it is a source of fresh necessities, menu cycles and food on the table.
But a market’s many attractions, beyond providing sustenance, is its natural potential to inspire, educate and, in some cases, enlighten. All over the world, the marketplace is where you see everything you will ever need to live fully, and then begin to understand what is truly important in your life.
This is what Winnie Go, an artist and potter who has been making different types of pottery from stoneware to earthenware over the last 20 years, experienced.
Having exhibited here and abroad, her work runs the gamut of traditional and creative ceramic techniques, glazing and firing methods.
Her ongoing exhibit “Sacred Valley” is a body of work inspired by her various trips to markets in South America, where she saw and witnessed the abundance and variety of produce from valleys that were once the fertile and spiritual base of the ancient American empire.
“Sacred Valley” is her resulting epiphany: Real abundance is creating something special out of the ordinary.
“‘Sacred Valley’ was inspired by many trips to the simplest markets I’ve seen. Late last year on my trip to Peru, specifically to the ‘Sacred Valley,’ I was really inspired to make this body of work. For a place so simple and underdeveloped, the beauty of nature you see there and the agricultural richness really amazed me. There is so much bounty, so very rich in natural resources—over 3,000 varieties of potatoes, over 800 types of corn and over 300 kinds of cocoa pods or beans all over markets in and around Peru. How is this possible?” she marveled.
And so the inspiration to translate this realization of what is basic into potent reminders of what is truly important in our lives through a medium she has mastered, has resulted in a beautiful profusion of hand-painted and glazed paper, stoneware, clay objects: pods, fruits, foraged plants and painted seeds in boxes and trays.
Artfully tied with string and rope, they are handheld pieces (approximately 16x12x12 centimeters); precious in their own right for having the power to ground us and enhance our wellbeing, just by their mere presence.
“Sacred Valley” invites contemplation—and time to take the objects in. Unlike her other shows in the past, “Sacred Valley” is not so much about functional objects like plates and jars. These recent works are like reminders, pieces to reflect on, aside from being just artfully decorative.
Dimensions of clay
“Many people look at pottery and ceramics mainly as functional pieces. I’d like to believe that loving and appreciating ceramics can also go toward the nonfunctional objects,” she said.
“As in other forms of art, we like to look at paintings, photographs and prints, because it’s either beautiful or graces our home with an emotion, feeling or energy which can’t be put into words. With the pieces I made in this show, an additional tactile quality gives you the ability to become more intimate with it.
“I used paper clay mixed with different found objects that are soft and hard like wire, old obi belts and ropes of different colors. I love the mix, which gives a change of texture and also the different sensibilities that it embodies. I love using clay because of the different dimensions that you work with when handling this material.
“Depending on which clay you use, you can transform a piece from something smooth to something textured, make it light or heavy, shiny or matte, colorful or subdued.
“At the end of the day, these are the best things in life we can give ourselves.”
“Sacred Valley” is ongoing at The Big Room in Artinformal, Greenhills, Mandaluyong City, until May 30.