Ceramic artist Melissa Woodburn shares a fascinating story and series of work based on Tarot cards. See more of her portfolio by visiting her website.
I always knew I wanted to be an artist.
At age ten, I was in heaven when I moved with my family to the Iowa countryside. My dad bought me a “retired” quarter horse for $150. I roamed the woods and farm roads, observing the cycles of nature from the back of my horse. I drew local flowers, fungi, insects and trees. A BFA degree enlarged my scope of media and my practice. After the 9/11 terrorist violence, I added ceramics back into my mix of media, healing my creative soul by literally sticking my hands into the earth.
In late 2019, I saw a call for “Tarot-related Art” which piqued my interest, and began work on a series of ceramic bas relief tarot cards. I had learned to read tarot in the 1980’s, but had forgotten about it in the years of starting a family. I’d always loved the graphic nature of the decks and how different the focus of each deck could be.
In this new series, Scenes from the Leporid Tarot, each Major Arcana card featured a hare as the main character. I planned to design and build a series of maybe five Major Arcana cards. Then the pandemic hit.
Like everyone else, I was caught when society shut down. I was working on The Tower, which was locked away for two months in the community center where I fire my work. When I was finally reunited with it, I thought, how prophetic! This card featuring total destruction was a perfect statement for the times.
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As I continued to work in isolation in my home studio, I built the cards one at a time, each telling the story of our daily unbelievable situation. I became The Hermit, alone on my mountaintop seeking my truth.
I mourned the incredible death rate while I worked on Judgement. How will this huge flight of souls leaving the planet affect us as a people?
I saw the world from a new perspective as I worked on The Hanged Man. While I worked on the complicated images of The Wheel of Fortune, I wondered how the big wheel of society will adjust to the tipping point of social reckoning we are experiencing.
While working on The Devil, I pondered those who get so caught up in the lies told by others they no longer have their own truth.
As our pandemic year has turned into two and life is beginning to reopen, I’m still working on this series, having completed twenty Major Arcana!
I have noticed my color palette is brighter and more hopeful with The Lovers and The Sun. The World shows a hare stepping into the future, while looking back at the past. Hopefully we have learned from our experiences and can call on this difficult year to help guide us into the future.
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