On Process, Sculptures and Kindness

Verse for the Virgin

Alleluia! light
burst from your untouched
womb like a flower
on the farther side
of death. The world-tree
is blossoming. Two
realms become one.
Hildegard of Bingen
(Trans. Barbara Newman from Women in Praise of the Sacred)

When I make art, I am seeking the Void or the womb of God, a place Hildegard describes so beautifully as the nexus where “two realms become one”. The last several years have brought me a much needed emptying process creating space in my life for this sacred nexus to flourish. I have been laid open and unclogged by making art. Making art cleared me and making art connects me with the Void. It is a form of deep, committed prayer.

This is the story of my opening told through my sculptures. I started as an artist sculpting in clay at the age of four, but left the medium for 20 years. Upon my return a few years back, I made very controlled sculptures like this one:

The Egg Cracks (c) Sybil Archibald

Like an egg, I was slowly cracking open- excavating a space for the Divine to enter. But as I created, I felt stuck. I didn’t feel that deep freedom which connecting to the Divine creative flow brings. I was controlling the process too much.

To loosen my grip, I began a series called the “The Act of Creation”. These pieces are about surrendering to the moment of creation without judgment. It was important for me to create without expectation of the outcome, to surrender product for process. I entered into the Void and mingled with the Divine creative energies there. Thus I acted on this clay only by instinct and stopped in the moment I felt this internal flow of creativity recede. As a vessel, I felt the creative energies within me merge into matter and I felt it as a physical sensation deep within my body. These pieces are a captured instant of the creative process made concrete and a record of, perhaps, my most intimates moments in the arms of the Artist.

Here are just a few from this series for more check here.

Act of Creation #1
Act of Creation #1 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation #1 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation #2

Act of Creation #2 (c) Sybil ArchibaldAct of Creation #2 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation #3

Act of Creation #3 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation #7

Act of Creation #7 (c) Sybil ArchibaldAct of Creation #7 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation #8

Act of Creation #8 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation #9

Act of Creation #9 (c) Sybil Archibald

Act of Creation Group Shot

Act of Creation Group (c) Sybil Archibald

Making these pieces completely opened me up. Suddenly I had ears, finally the Artist had come and gently slipped me on like a glove. My current “Mystical Vessel” series, sculptures of mystics who profoundly influenced my spiritual development, could not have happened without this experience of letting go. Here are the first three pieces from this series:

The Pregnant Virgin
The Pregnant Virgin (c) Sybil Archibald

The Pregnant Virgin (c) Sybil Archibald
For video of this sculpture check here.

Hildgard of Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen (c) Sybil Archibald

Hildegard of Bingen (c) Sybil Archibald
For video of this sculpture check here.

St. Francis
St. Francis (c) Sybil Archibald

St. Francis (c) Sybil Archibald
He needs arms before I make a video…

Making art in this way, deeply connected to Divine flow of creativity, is an adventure, a riotous ride into the unknown. Like a whirling dervish, I spin into hidden realms and it is sweet compensation for a body confined by illness. Which is why, despite everything I have been through, I am profoundly grateful for the infinite kindness of God.

9 Responses “On Process, Sculptures and Kindness”

  1. Jan says:

    How amazing you are, Sybil. Beautiful. God shows the Divine through your work. I’m grateful that you also feel God doing your art.
    .-= Jan´s last blog ..We have head colds =-.

  2. stacy says:

    i am in awe…to be invited to witness such intimacy, what an amazing gift you have given us!
    .-= stacy´s last blog ..rhythm and rule =-.

  3. debraann says:

    Beautiful! Beautiful creations and beautiful words. Thank you for being open!

  4. Thanks DebraAnn & Stacy!

  5. Jason says:

    Mrs. Archibald ,

    Seeing the interesting commentary you made at Mr.Paton’s blog led me here to your art site .

    The scuplture of the Chritian writer and contemplative Hildegard of Bingen is remarkable .

    Her face reminds me of an elderly lady I have seen somewhere …There is a very slight resemblance in her face…NOT spitting image mind you , but a slight resemblance to my late maternal grandmother who died unfortunately in 1994 .

    I especially like the purple of her heart and the oval-ness of it .

    Sincere Regards ,


  6. Andrew says:

    I think it’s great how you allowed yourself to let go and let the process guide you where it will: you arrived at a place creatively that a person, any person, probably could not anticipate if he/she tried to just use intellect and nothing more. It’s interesting how from #3, to #7, to #8 it looks like the spirit has stumbled from exhaustion, and risen uncertainly but with perservance to keep trying, and a blue light (creativity?) is slowly reigniting inside the battered body.

    You’re a great artist.

    • Thanks for your kinds words and also your understanding of my work. Whenever I read a comment from you about my work, I learn something I was unconscious of but which is clearly true. That is a gift.

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