The Ex Voto project has been brewing for some time. It started ruminating during the launch of the Take A Wish project and took hold during a trip to Rome spent scouring churches and cathedrals, contemplating shrines, votives and memento mori. Every sight set off a ping in my heart, but it took years to get me to this point of artistic expression. Even now I have trouble articulating this project.
According to www.fisheaters.com, Ex Votos "are actions or material things vowed to God (or promised to a Saint for their intercession with God) in return for a hoped-for miracle, offered in thanksgiving for an already-answered prayer, or given in thanksgiving for blessings not asked for."*
After my visit to Rome I thought, "what if I turn the 12 wishes in Take A Wish into prayers offered as ex-votos?" I can put the wish (now prayer) on the front, a specific concern on the back and create an votive urn to place it in.
Since they are burdens of the heart, the ex-voto would be the heart shape common those found in the churches I visited. By inscribing each with the prayer and the specific concern and placing it into the urn and closing the lid, I in effect remove the burden (usually something I cannot change) from my heart, and put it in God's hands. In making the tokens I realized the need to create two new categories- "Private Prayers," a personal one for the things that are just between me and God, and "Go Away." Who doesn't have someone or something in their life that if they just went away things would be better?
Thus began a project that I feel will go on for the rest of my life. My concerns are personal, far reaching, ever changing and never ending. I have family conflicts that need Divine intervention, sick friends who need a miracle, dead loved ones I am mourning. But I also fret over those all over the world who are suffering from poverty, disease, political unrest, violence, natural disaster and social injustice. How can we collectively help these souls except through prayer? In prayer lies collective power, in prayer lies clarity, in prayer lies courage and strength to take action. Prayer marks the beginnings of change.