Re-enchanting the World
I am a lifelong student of art, ecology and magic. In 2017, my Daughter was diagnosed with a language disorder, prompting the use of alternative communication at home. Signing and symbols rapidly evolved into an exercise in language creation. Curious about the icons used in alternative communication supports, I found that symbolic languages build on one another going back to pre-history and share universal elements around the globe. Visual lexicons from folk art patterns precede and inform the written word.
Writing itself was borrowed from nature, a gift from the gods. Ancestral cultures grew out of unique adaptations to specific environments, shaping the cosmos for each of us. Observing nature, we modeled our art forms after natural processes as a form of magic, appealing to those same forces for help. Now we are out of control and need to walk the world back into balance. My work lies in hunting and gathering folk magic during a time of ecological crisis, looking for restoratives to heal our relationship to place.
MAGICAL FOLK ARTS
As children we find solace from uncontrollable circumstances by delving into magic, fairy tales and folklore. In an effort to understand what is happening around us, we internalize stories and symbols that give meaning to challenges, making them relatable. Adults too have a need for powerful narratives to rally around in times of social upheaval, as do elders in search of deeper philosophical meaning in the process of ageing. Magic ebbs and flows throughout our lives, acting as a guiding force through an allegorical labyrinth and enchanting our experience of the world.
Language is inherently magical, the world begins with a sound or vibration in many traditions because the word focuses thought and action. Writing was once considered a form of magic, as the transmission of encoded information is accessible only to those who can read. Technology is used as a vector for magic today, channeling vast amounts of networked information straight into your retinas - if you can afford access. But what if the magic we need right now isn’t to be found on the internet?
My jam is in finding overlap between patterns in nature, traditional folk designs and their forgotten magical uses. Focusing on rooted Scandinavian, Slavic and Celtic cultures, as these three groups are where my own heritage lies, this practice helps me reconnect with the landscape in a restorative way. Centering the need to protect our wild places and heal cultural traumas, I seek to aid in the renewal of an Earth-centered civic spirituality. An exercise in radical feminist crafting, Nest & Tessellate has evolved out of my experience as a mother and artist.
RECLAIM & REWILD
Jeanine Malec is a Minneapolis-based artist, creating under the moniker Nest and Tessellate. Her work explores visual languages derived from forgotten folk art patterns and symbolism. Her practice seeks to revive the use of these ideograms as a way to connect with ancestral traditions, anchor our energies in the present, and craft symbolic stories about who we want to be as a community going forward. Sigils, or symbols charged with intention, have a long history of use as agents of healing and protection. Collecting imagery from around South Minneapolis, she hopes to draw attention to different folk art traditions, draw parallels between forms, identify shared meanings and with the help of collaborators, construct a contemporary folk art language rooted in the magic of this place and its people. The results of this inquiry are intended to act as a reference point, inspiring positive change through the intentional use of symbols or sigils. The goal, in short, is to create a magical folk art for our time.
About the name and our logo:
The name Nest & Tessellate comes from a passage in Bill Mollison's 'Permaculture Manual'. Permaculture is a farming practice that imitates how nature grows - in trophic layers and guilds. Every system supports every other in balance, creating a kind of synergy that produces abundantly and in healthier ways than Monoculture. Our logo is also derived from the principles of Permaculture, and illustrates how each element in nature fits within an intelligent pattern, tessellating across 2 dimensional space and nesting in 3 dimensions. This concept is more important to me than the medium, and I use the name and logo as a jumping off point to talk about how both nature and culture are systems wherein everything can work together to support synergy and abundance if we make these goals the focus of our efforts.