The Artist's Canvas
TWPT: Tell us a little about Abby Willowroot, your art background and who you are.
AW: I am a Mom, an Artist, an Eclectic Pagan, and a Solitary. I view myself as a folk artist, I am self taught and have been earning my living as an artist since 1967. My heart is gentle and my personality is sometimes abrasive. I grew up in Massachusetts, a block from the ocean and that experience has built an early and strong love of nature in me. My life has been full of diverse experiences, it is interesting, complicated, painful and joyous, all in all, a great time. I love French films, popcorn, African Art, lilacs, nasturtiums, trees, rocks & minerals, Alabama (the group), Annie Lenox, cold winter beaches, good acting, and people who dare to be themselves. I believe that we are all artists, and that creating art is our birthright as human beings. Art is not about talent, it is about passion and courage, the courage to express yourself, and the passion to do it honestly. Talent is a bonus, but it certainly isn't necessary. "Artists are people who refuse to surrender the crayons".
TWPT: What first inspired you to create Goddess Art? Was there an inspiration to the Art/Idea?
AW: My dad was a successful artist who loved to look at better artists work, so I grew up spending every Sunday for about 14 years in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. They have a fantastic Goddess Collection. I spent hours staring at the Ivory Minoan Goddess, with her golden ornaments, and at the Venus figures, and Babylonian lions, and Isis images and Greek carved stones of Muses and Fates. So, from the time I was about five years old, real Goddess images were part of my ordinary experience. Perhaps that is why I am so passionate about the power of tangible Goddess imagery, and why I advocate creating it everywhere. I know how seeing it can positively effect a child, I was one of those children it enriched. Maybe all those years ago, is when the seeds of the Goddess 2000 Project really started to stir in my head. I just needed to wait for the Internet to make it all possible. LOL
TWPT: When did the "Spiral Goddess" Web site first go "on line" as an idea?
AW: In early 1997, but much of the artwork on the website was done earlier. My sons and I produces a "Goddess Guide " laminated information sheet in the early 90s. That was the first "visual outreach" that grew into the Spiral Goddess Grove and the Goddess 2000 Project. I wanted to make Goddess information available in a way that conveyed both the information and a sense of the sacred that was accessible and enjoyable.
TWPT: The art on your site, the wonderful graphics that compliment your material so well, are these created by you to work with the material on your site, or does the material flow from the graphics?
AW: They are the same thing, saying the same things. One is visual the other verbal. I build the pages "in flow" without pre-deciding what graphics will be used, or exactly what I will write. If I find that a graphic is needed that I don't already have, I stop and create it. This is why the pages seem to flow. Nothing is forced to fit, each page grows organically, sprouting artwork like buds on a plant. Some of the most wonderful images, like Night Mother, and the Goddess Grotto images, were created by my oldest son Thomas.
I always know what I want to say, but am often surprised at the way I end up saying it. These pages are a sacred space for me, and I hope, for many other people too. They are intended to honor the Goddess and also to honor everyone who views them. My son Sam has helped me to see through others' eyes and understand that we are all different, and the same. Love those paradoxes.
TWPT: Tell us a little about the flow of your site, the layout. Was this the way you envisioned it?
AW: Yes, but it is always growing. There are a number of new pages that will be added over the next couple of months. I wanted to create a website that was "organic" and not just another linear page with info and pics stuck in the same old structure.
TWPT: I see many Spiritual Paths covering the Goddess in your site, making it very eclectic. Your work also lends itself to all paths. Was this intentional or did it evolve this way.
AW: Yes it was intentional. Our diversity spiritually, racially, culturally and aesthetically is what makes humanity so wonderful. It seemed that many pagan sites I visited were "way too white" for my tastes, and under represented other cultures. I am not talking about Celtic or Asatru sites that speak to a specific ethnic history. I mean Pagan sites in general, where I seldom saw a black or brown face, never saw Asian faces and saw far more maidens than mothers and crones.
I wanted to create a website where people would see themselves represented no matter what their race, age, gender, culture, or tradition. The Goddess is from all cultures, each expression of Her essence is unique and rich. I believe that there is no "one right spirituality or faith" Just the one that is right for you, and I hope the website reflects that openness of spirit.
TWPT: Could you tell us a little about your art in general? I know some of your art is on display and has been used in various media.
AW: My art has been focused on the Goddess since 1971, primarily in jewelry and small sculpture. I am both a fabricator and caster, working in silver, gold, bronze. I also like to work in porcelain, wood and plaster. I showed my work at the Michigan Women's Music Festival for many years, and at the California Renaissance Pleasure Faires (No. & So.), showing Goddesses, one of a kind Magic Wands, Dragon & Fae sculptures and mystical amulets. I currently do very few shows, preferring to concentrate on the artwork itself.
My artwork has appeared on SageWoman Magazine's cover, the book Queen of Swords by Judy Grahn, and in many issues of WomanSpirit.
TWPT: The "Goddess 2000 Project". Tell us a little about your involvement in this, some history and the ideas behind this wonderful project.
AW: There is a page that explains this at the website (www.goddess2000.org) "Birth of the Goddess 2000 Project", and I'm not sure I can do a shorter version. The idea for the Project had been formulating itself in bits and pieces for a long time, but it crystallized and all came together on full moon in Dec. 1998. I made a webpage that night, sent out press releases and thanks to lots of wonderful visionary Pagans, it happened! There is just so much support from the Pagan Community for this Project that I knew it was meant to be.
TWPT: I see you have posted on the "Goddess 2000" site some of the wonderful art created by all sorts of people and mailed to you. Could you tell us about the feedback you are receiving and how you feel this whole project is moving along?
AW: The feedback has been terrific. People are expressing themselves in so many different ways! The artwork is more beautiful than it looks on the web, since we cut down file size for faster page loading. We are working together to create a visual language of contemporary Goddess Culture, and each expression of that is precious. Each week more artwork is added from participants. We are saving the all the participants' artwork to CD Rom.
TWPT: So, what next after 2000? Any new projects we should be looking for?
AW: The Goddess 2000 Project will be continuing through the year 2000 and into 2001. We have such a wonderful international network of creative and enthusiastic folks that many exciting projects are beginning to come together. Next year there will be several traveling Goddess Art Shows and several performance pieces are in the works. We are hoping to work with Pagan Festivals around the country and abroad to show work, stimulate the creation of more Goddess imagery, earthworks and the building of Goddess Temples. These are very exciting times and what people are doing around the world to honor the Goddess is just amazing.
TWPT: Other than on the net, where else do you display your art? Do you do exhibits or shows that we can look forward to?
AW: LOL, is there life outside the Net? I am currently working on a series of bronze sculptures that will be shown in the fall of 2000. Working in Oils is also a part of the new imagery I am creating, but it is too early to tell you much more about it.
JBL Statues aka "Sacred Source" will be offering 3 of my sculptures in clay this fall, with a percentage going to the Goddess 2000 Project. They are a Spiral Goddess, a Crone and a GreenMan wall piece. My jewelry is also on the web and in a few Pagan stores. The Project has really taken up most of my time this year, and I look forward to doing more artwork in the coming months.