As I am getting ready for my upcoming artist residency, I am working on Draupadi- The woman who was born from fire, the woman who was disrobed, the woman who vowed vengeance.

She was featured in the Mahabharata as a very important character. Here is the latest version of my artwork. I wanted emphasis on her hair, fire and her disrobing. I also wanted to convey her not being able to tell her story.


Anatomy of an Artist Residency, Part II

Read Anatomy of an Artist Residency, Part I

In 20 days, Jeane & Sukanya board an Air Canada jet to Dublin to begin the art residency they have talked about for more than two years.

Sukanya is a painter and paper cut artist. Jeane works in photography, mixed media, and tapestry.

Sukanya is searching for stories of women, everyday and ancient, goddess and maiden and mother and crone. Jeane is searching for ancient symbols and practices and weave together women’s experiences through the millennia.

Ireland is a treasure trove of ancient and myth and mysticism and stories. It’s easy enough to travel from one goddess site to another and gather what we needed. Tourists can do that.

We wanted more. We wanted collaboration. That’s a little trickier. Apparently, there is no central registry for artists to book a collaborator, like booking an AirBnB or renting a car. Too bad. We could use one of those.

Instead, we reached out to artists we found on Facebook, through Irish art groups, through professional art associations, though word of mouth. It’s a risk to reach out to others. It’s a risk to respond. We persevered. There HAVE to be artists who want to collaborate.

Initially, more than 15 artists responded that they were interested in our project, six finally committed. Without hesitation and with tremendous generosity, six Irish artists in various parts of the country offered ideas, places to stay, places to work, people to meet. Please read about them in Our Collaborators section above. You will be hearing a lot about them in the next month.

Creating a residency from scratch is a challenge. It’s not a common model, and it’s an experiment. We are very grateful to the artists who already have taken a risk to work with us. It’s a privilege to meet this way.

There is no art in a vacuum. Jeane and Sukanya invite you to add your voices, ideas, suggestions, comments, and art to the project.

Read Anatomy of an Artist Residency, Part II

So excited! Our residency to Ireland is in a month! As Jeane and I get ready to travel, I am writing my musings down. Ireland is a foreign land, unknown to me. The journey will unearth the mystery and the experience, I hope will produce new work. Why do we tell stories? What are the rituals that create culture? These are some of the questions I am exploring with this residency.

I am a storyteller. I have grown up surrounded by my mother and father who told innumerable stories. I fell asleep in my Dad’s arms listening to his voice recount the stories of the Indian Gods and Goddesses. No ritual was complete, food prepared without my Mom rooting it in ancient stories. Why do women wear the bindi? Why did the goddess have a hundred hands? What is the metaphor and how can it be practiced in daily life?

Rituals that I grew up around involve all the five senses- colorful images, incense sticks, new clothes, delicious food and chanting mantras. Each culture is tied in its own rituals. Ritual touches every part of the human experience. What are your family’s rituals? If you would like to share, please leave them, in the comments below. Include some modern ones!
Here is a video of my current work….

Anatomy of an Artist Residency, Part I

I know it sounds like a glorified vacation –sometimes PAID vacation. But an artist seeks a residency for one reason: to advance the work.

Artists are misunderstood. Many people think we sit down at a table and just create! From our brains! It just comes out! Sometimes the great ones have angst. The bad ones have doubts. But we just create.

Well, sure. Sometimes it works like that. Rarely. Maybe once. I heard someone say.

No one creates in a vacuum. Creativity demands inspiration.  A muse. A trigger that triggers something else that triggers the idea that triggers the work.

No one’s muse is the same. Time alone, away from other obligations. Travel. New people. New places. New ideas. Whatever an artist’s idea of inspiration is, a residency allows time and energy for the muse to find a home.

If the artist is attentive and ready to pursue the work, a residency can encourage the art to explode in content and excellence. It’s a solitary partnership of place and time and effort. It’s labor. It’s not a vacation.

About 2 years ago, Sukanya and Jeane started whispering about a residency together, collaborative. Not India, Sukanya said. Jeane would have been thrilled to go back to India with someone who knew the country, but that wasn’t fair for a residency. IndiaTriple Spiral symbol -- three filled double Archimedean spirals (triskelion) gave Sukanya her soul, but it was too familiar.

We wanted to study goddesses, revered women. When a culture honors divine women, it’s possible to honor women of flesh. We both find that concept missing in our current land.

We chose Ireland for several reasons. Jeane’s paternal great-grandparents emigrated from Ireland but she knew NOTHING about the culture. She spent a few delightful days in a fishing village an hour north of Dublin in 2012, but didn’t explore the countryside. She longed for a stone circle!

Ireland captured our attention because it is one of the few places that continues to honor pagan goddesses, even in a modern form. In the goddess realm, Ireland has the allure of being “other-worldly.” There, people write of “thin places” in the land where worlds speak to each other. Mythology is strong and vibrant; it has a place in many peoples’ everyday lives.

We want to study that. Sukanya will bring her knowledge of Hindu goddesses to the Celtic land. Jeane will bring her study of Mesolithic and Neolithic symbols that appear with mysterious commonality in different cultures around the world and have similar meanings. Together, the symbols and stories will create the base for new work. Together and separate. Muses merging.

With the basis of a plan — in other words, where we wanted to be and basically what we want to do– we set upon creating the residency for ourselves.

To be continued….  Anatomy of an Artist Residency, Part II

Symbols & Stories: In Search of Lost Women

We are Jeane Vogel & Sukanya Mani, two artists who are creating artwork focusing on alternate views of history that focus on women’s stories and women’s symbols, dating to pre-history.

Our journey begins in Ireland in September 2018, where we will collaborate with artists to exchange stories and explore the symbolism of female myth, lore, and stories that are deeply embedded in our respective cultures. 

Our plan is to create new art, collaborate with Irish artists, organize workshops and story-telling sessions, dive deeply into the myths and lore of women that have been hidden or discounted over time. Jeane and Sukanya will each will use their own art media, artistic expression, and cultural interpretations to gather information, create a body of work, and showcase it. Together with our Irish artist collaborators, we will find venues for the work. We will collect and include a reaction piece from the community as part of the exhibit.

Artist Jeane Vogel will use photography to document the process and get a sense of the space. She will also use mixed media and weft-faced tapestry to explore ancient stories. Jeane is interested in exploring the symbols and signs that foremothers left us to tell their stories, and how those stories have been translated and transformed into today’s cultural touchpoints. Ireland is especially rich in woman symbolism, and its culture has allowed ancient stories to be retold in modern religious practice and mythology. Jeane plans to incorporate her study of ancient Native American symbolism with Irish and “modern Western” symbolism of women in her work.

Artist Sukanya Mani is interested in contemporary stories told through ancient art forms. Sukanya has been exploring retelling the ancient stories and finding connections to the contemporary lifestyles of women today. She wants to study why certain artistic decisions were made in storytelling of the female in the past and bring it into a modern context. She uses tyvek paper, acrylic paints and delicate papercut techniques to retell these stories.

Our works intersect where the ancient and the modern meet. We hope to create new work building on new connections with better understanding of where the common themes lie among these cultures.

Thank you for coming along.


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton