Personal Trauma Gives Birth to ‘Cosmic Egg’
For most of the last year, Imogene Drummond of Katonah lived in a small village in Greece. She was cut off from telephone, television, and hot water faucets, and immersed in a tiny agricultural community of elderly people, sheep, goats, grape arbors, and olive groves. The result of the sabbatical is a New York exhibit of collages that features symbolism and mythology, joy and delight.
Drummond’s art work consists of collage-like pictures and paintings that resemble later works by Matisse. The works feature large colorful shapes and figures that can be sea ferns or plants, crabs or ballet dancers or spiral curves.
“There is this organic life quality to them,” Drummond said, adding that she did not intend them to be a statement on oceans or environment.
The collages are shamanic, Drummond said. A shaman is a combination priest-doctor that some cultures use to help explain the world and to perform healing ceremonies. The year she spent in Greece isolated from modern things but surrounded by the natural environment helped her focus on changing a personal trauma into a positive healing experience for others, she said.
“You do that by isolating yourself and dealing with the trauma in that way,” she said. “For me, it was changing the trauma of the loss of several family members through death and divorce into a celebratory cosmology of positive, life-affirming images and myths.”
Drummond has also explored sites that are sacred to many early or aboriginal peoples to help develop a symbolic vocabulary for her collages. She has explored Australian aboriginal cave paintings, Hawaiian petroglyphs, ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples, and Minoan and Anatolian sites. From these, she gathered such symbols as upraised arms, spirals and serpents, waves, and crescent moons.
Her work features primary colors. “I am definitely drawn to the tropics,” she said.
The exhibit, “Imogene Drummond: The Cosmic Egg,” is named after three of the collages in the exhibit that were originally conceived as a book patterned after Matisse’s book, “Jazz.” The exhibit also features collages illustrating three new myths: “Divine Sparks,” a new creation story; “Under the Arbor,” a new Adam and Eve story; and a new set of 10 commandments, “Thou Shalls.”
“Cosmic Egg” is being displayed as a work-in-progress prior to publication as a book. Today, the exhibit will be accompanied by readings on culture and mythology.
Drummond turned to art after working for several years as a therapist. She earned a master’s degree in art without holding a bachelor’s degree in art, she said.
Her works have also been exhibited in New York, Honolulu, Washington, and Melbourne, Australia. Her one-person show of collages inspired by Crete was televised in Greece.
The exhibit is at the Ridge Street Gallery on Ridge Street in New York City and will run through Dec. 22. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, call (212) 769-3290.