Wedding Flowers An Ancient Tradition

January 16, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

It started with symbolism and smells. Some of the earliest references to the wedding bouquet come from ancient Greece and Rome where brides and grooms were draped in garlands. That’s the same way that victorious Olympians were celebrated. Wedding garlands were worn as symbols of fertility and good luck.   Other cultures contribute their own traditions. Wearing aromatic herbs was thought to be a ... Read More

Sacred Symbols

Church Signs - Resourceful and Sometimes Funny

January 04, 2017 by: Ben Heimsath

If there’s one thing I’ve observed, church folks are pretty resourceful. Faced with challenges or unusual issues, they improvise solutions and make things happen. And that often includes some very unique signs. I’ve blogged about this previously, but since then, I’ve found even better examples of creative church signs. I’m sharing some of the best examples of signs I’ve come across in the past ... Read More

Sacred Symbols

Neighborhood Nativities - Variations on a Scene

December 25, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Yesterday, Christmas Eve, I noted the origin of the Nativity scene can be traced directly to St. Francis of Assisi. From the first live reenactment the tradition quickly moved to stage sets in churches. Soon, people placed scenes inside their own homes. The image of the Holy Family has become integral to the Christmas celebration, especially in Italy and Germany, where many Yuletide traditions in ... Read More

Religious / Sacred Symbols

Pre-Spanish Philippines Filled With Anito

December 02, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

In Filipino mythology, numerous spirits and domestic deities inhabited the landscape. Anito refers generally to a diversity of ancient faiths throughout the many islands. Anito is also a term for the folk art figures and statues made to embody these entities.   These figures were frequently carved of wood by priestly artisans. Used in sacred rituals, the anito embodied the spirit often of ... Read More

Sacred Symbols / Liturgical Arts

Urban Buddha Resides Temporarily in Chicago

November 28, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

A public art installation in Chicago’s Grant park was installed last month. The piece dominates the southern edge of the public space, right next to a skatepark. Made entirely of recycled wood, the 15 foot tall piece is an abstract representation of the sitting Buddha. The creation of Tibetan-born contemporary artist, Tashi Norbu, the work’s formal name is “Be the Flower, Not the Bee,” a ... Read More

Religious / Sacred Symbols / Sustainable Deisgn

Lucky Cats Reference Japanese and Western Spirituality

November 23, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

Another TEMPO installation, 1800 Lucky Cats was installed in front of the Austin Animal Center through this past weekend. The 1800 ceramic figurines represent only one-tenth of the 18,000 animals that are processed in the shelter annually. This work was created by artist Teruko Numura as a way to highlight the shelter’s no-kill policy and to raise awareness of the very active adoption programs. ... Read More

Austin / Sacred Symbols

More East Austin Studio Tour Religious References

November 19, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

As I’ve documented this past year, there are many connections to spirituality and religious traditions in modern culture. So it was no surprise to find a rich array of such references these past two weekends of the East Austin Studio Tour. Now in its 15th year, this tour’s offerings demonstrated an increasing level of sophistication and maturity in the Austin arts community.  As with my reporting ... Read More

Sacred Symbols / Liturgical Arts

Diwali Festival of Lights

November 11, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

With so much going on these past few weeks here in the US, most of us probably missed out on one of the biggest and happiest celebrations in many Eastern countries, the festival of Diwali. This annual 5-day fall celebration has its origins in Hindu spirituality, but has been incorporated into the Jain and Sikh and various Buddhist traditions as well. Though the many myths, ceremonies, and rituals ... Read More

Religious / Sacred Symbols

Due East Samples Include Spiritual Themes

November 10, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

The lights were barely turned on this evening as my wife and I joined a small but eager group who arrived early to get a first look at the offerings for the 15th annual East Austin Studio Tour. The kick-off party, appropriately titled Due East, included the opening of the East Group Exhibition featuring one piece from each of the over 400 artists contributing to this year’s tour. It didn’t take ... Read More

Artists / Presentations / Sacred Symbols

Orlando to Purchase Mass Shooting Site for Memorial

November 09, 2016 by: Ben Heimsath

What ultimately happens to the Pulse nightclub, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in US history will be up to the citizens of Orlando. Mayor Buddy Dyer announced Monday that an agreement had been reached with the owners and the Council would be asked to approve the deal next week. The property has been empty since June 12, when a gunman opened fire on revelers during a dance party. Before ... Read More

Memorial / Suddenly Sacred / Sacred Symbols