illuminated chaconne

A MULTIMEDIA EXPERIENCE OF BACH’S VIOLIN MASTERWORK
A PROJECT BY ARTIST SANDRA M. DEAN

 
Passage

Passage

About the Art

The inspiration for the forty-eight drawings of Illuminated Chaconne arrived half a lifetime ago in a dream, accompanied by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. 

Above my head, a swirling spiral galaxy (an ancient symbol of the life process) gathered in thousands of stars from far away. As the galaxy turned, subliminal passages from a luminous musical composition expanded into an audible stream that drew me into its current. When I recognized the music on a recording a few days later, I knew that I had to decipher the dream’s message. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 

In the years that followed, the dream and the mysterious music associated with it, Bach’s Chaconne from the Partita in D Minor for solo violin, grew to become inseparable, interior guides. Their quietly insistent presence always directed me to the depths as I explored the world through the complementary disciplines of art and music studies, a healing arts practice and extensive readings in Eastern arts and philosophies. Gradually, I began to understand that the reciprocal conversation between my two inner companions—one visual and the other musical—contained elements of a common theme. But the key that would translate the meaning of this dialogue into a new artistic language remained hidden.

It wasn’t until the dream’s subconscious galaxy imprint unexpectedly reappeared in a new form that the subject for this series of drawings came into focus. On an autumn walk in 1980, six years after my dream, I picked up a fallen horse chestnut seed and in my sketch book I made the following note:

When I found the shiny brown horse chestnut seed with the vague imprint of a spiral galaxy on the side where it attached to the husk, I knew that its story held a special significance. It seemed to me that this miniature galaxy, delicate and almost humorous, was more than just a reminder that the same growth patterns appear in large and small worlds. It was also a clue to the creative secrets that live in the seed forms of all life.

 
 
 
 
 

Like the many musical variations of Bach’s composition, each drawing of Illuminated Chaconne grows out of the one preceding it, while opening the way to the next. Images flow into focus and dissolve again into components of creative energy. Circular design undercurrents reflect the combined influence of ancient visual symbols and studies of order and interconnectedness: the Tree of Life, the Mandala and Sacred Geometry.

Throughout the entire series, a subtle mathematical rhythm constantly rearranges the structural threads of visible and invisible worlds. But like fractals, each drawing’s individual composition always retains a relationship to a larger, collective form.

 
 

The Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is an ancient symbol that has appeared throughout world art, mythology and religion for thousands of years. It represents the creative forces of the universe and the interconnectedness of all life.

The Mandala

The term “Mandala” comes from the ancient Sanskrit word for circle. Its design is usually based on a concentric motif that suggests the many-layered dimensions of the Cosmos. Mandalas appear in the art of many cultures and always symbolize wholeness, unity, completion, cycles of creation and dissolution, as well as cosmic or psychic order. Visual Mandalas are often employed as portals to meditative or altered states of consciousness.

Sacred Geometry

Sacred Geometry refers to the invisible mathematical and geometrical principles that underlie all visible forms in nature, and which serve as keys to understanding the structure of the Cosmos.