Monday, April 20, 2020

Land Art Project: Art meets Nature

Remote Learning: 9-12th Ceramics/Sculpture
by Michele Ogilvie, MFA. •  Visual Art Upper School Faculty

It’s surreal to sometimes think of how things go on this planet, within our world, our place that we call home. To go beyond the why of things can often send us into a whirl of confusion. It is sometimes easier to look for distractions. I am an artist and teacher of art. I am searching to strike a balance within the frame of education and the challenges we all face right now during this pandemic. I look up often these days to notice large billows of clouds that go from grey to pillow white against a backdrop of rolling hills behind my house. The rain has been generous this year and every branch holds tender new leaves. I am in awe of this beauty, this quiet that our neighborhoods have not seen for decades. I understand that there is a price for this rebirthing. People are suffering, businesses are closing, so many are losing their jobs, homes, and sometimes their lives. This confrontational paradox and social distancing have us spinning in place. Our physical periphery has grown smaller, while our confounding predicament expands to every nation on the globe. This crisis is existential and beyond that—lies the inevitable realization that our lives and our entire world is changing. There will be much repairing to do. Politically, educationally, economically, emotionally and spiritually. There are remnants of optimism—some scrounge for the hope that we will bear witness once again to humankind’s tenacity, and resilience. So many are saying, “History repeats.”
As I teach my remote art classes, I spend time with a generation of people that will no doubt eventually save this world. They are so strong, intelligent and earnest. They meet me on Zoom conferencing, which at first felt strange, but we are all quickly adapting to this way of connecting. We have been talking a lot about the creative correlations between art and nature. I encourage them to go outside and look for beautiful things: flowers, trees, sunsets, clouds. We share our snapshots with each other in albums on Schoology. We study land art artists such as Andy Goldsworthy (b.1956), Dietmar Voorvold (b.1957), Robert Smithson (1938-73), and Nancy Holt (1938-2014) and how they relied upon nature to construct sculptures that shed light on the transience and existential aspects of life on earth. We discuss how these artists developed an intimate understanding of how things in nature function: the ebb and flow of seasons; the acceptance of change and uncertainty; how the rush of rivers, the shifting tides, and erosion can alter or wipe out a constructed sculpture made from fragile, meticulously placed interconnected natural found objects such as twigs, vines, leaves, icicles, and stones—within an instant. We discuss how all of these things refer to the precarious function of balance and play a metaphorical role in representing the full cycle of life: birth; existence; and transitions that take us back to a beginning.
Observing and taking part in this trial and error process is a bridge that leads us towards creativity. We notice that this represents a willingness to take a leap of faith into the unknown and accept that outcomes can often be unpredictable. We acknowledge the subtleties of our own personal perceptions—what is it that we sense; how is that we feel; what is that we want to convey? Within this process, there is always something to be learned about ourselves and our relationships with each other and the world. Voorwold talks about aspiring to find a place of stillness with complex and simple shapes by setting them in serene environments while allowing the forces of nature to intervene. He describes that in the human condition there is a struggle, there is a breakthrough, and there is serenity. He explains, “Nature is full of truth, fully in the moment, nothing artificial about it.”
My 9-12 grade students have been creating their own land art sculptures. I am blown away by the depth and conceptual understanding that they have brought to this project. I am sincerely moved by their willingness to fully dive into this experience of exploring the connections between emotions, art, and nature and I believe that for many it has been a healing and comforting experience. We hope you take the time to notice how precious and profound these pieces are.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Zen in the Art of Ceramics

By Michele Ogilvie

Over the years, I have learned that the process of making art is a way to investigate and expand our perceptions of the world. If approached intuitively and authentically the creative process is an inspiration. The word ‘inspire’ essentially means to give life with breath. An inspiration is like an intentional inhale — a breath taken in, as one may experience during mediation and yoga. When a work of art inspires, it can move us to discover evidence of a universal and personal journey that contains the essence of life’s unexplainable, existential mysteries. Through the process of slowing down to observe the world, being introspective, and dreaming of possibilities that spring from the heart and the imagination, can we reach the healing potential of creative experience. It is through slowing down; practicing focused mindfulness; doing one thing at a time; and thinking about what is necessary that can make the act of creating a Zen experience. 

Ceramics in particular offers a window into this type of discovery because clay is a basic tactile material that physically and metaphorically connects us to the Earth in a timeless way. It is essentially a right brain activity that offers a holistic approach to learning about intangible things such as intuition, insight and sensitivity. In a beginning Ceramics class students will often declare how difficult it is because it requires a willingness to move their hands in ways that may seem quite awkward at first. It requires slowing down, focus, and a commitment to accepting that the process can be more important than the outcome. Any initial intimidation is overcome with practice, determination and patience. Once a student sees the alchemy that transpires between mud and maker, they are understandably amazed by their own handmade accomplishments. Along the way, they may have also learned some valuable things about Zen.    
© M.Ogilvie, 2015 All rights reserved.

Monday, November 11, 2013


BRIDGES TO THE SOUL: The Art of Healing
I am honored to be participating in this upcoming exhibit at the USC Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery curated by Art 4 All People

This exhibit explores contemporary artists who use their Art as instruments of power and healing. 

Three pieces have been chosen from my Zero Point Field series.

Zero Point Field is said to be “a repository of all fields and all ground energy states and all virtual particles. It is a field of fields.” The existence of the Zero Point Field is the contemporary explanation for many metaphysical notions such as extra sensory perception, chi, mind/body relationships, remote healings and miracles. Today we look to science to prove what ancient philosophers, oracles, shamans, and Eastern wisdom have known all along. (Lynne McTaggard, “The Field")

Most of us who take time to reflect on the progression of our lives will notice that for a large part—we are our thoughts. Our lives perform around our intentions—calculated or not. But dare we think that we are the sole proprietor of our outcomes, we must also notice that our world is not always what we intend it to be. In other words our lives are a transient and sometimes unpredictable dance between hopes, dreams, fears, exchanges and relationships. Our circumstance is not only influence by what we think and feel, but also by everything and everybody we touch. It is about a Zero Point Field of interconnection. It is beyond the singular—it is foremost about the collective us.

My Zero Point Field series celebrates this revolution and hopes to inspire a visual doorway into this realm of interconnected possibilities. Through the exchange of intention and surrender may we become enlightened to the potential of unity, community, purpose and the spiritual radiance in all beings.

©Michele Ogilvie, All rights reserved. 2013
Zero Point Field IX, Ink, Oil Paint and Encaustic, 21x15” with wood frame

©Michele Ogilvie, All rights reserved. 2013
Zero Point Field X, Ink, Oil Paint and Encaustic, 21x15” with wood frame

©Michele Ogilvie, All rights reserved. 2013
Zero Point Field XI, Ink, Oil Paint and Encaustic, 21x15” with wood frame

Friday, July 12, 2013

PEACE INSPIRED Tee Shirts, Hoodies and Totes

I am pleased to offer some wearable art to my friends who would like to help support The Peace Project at The Whole 9. "The Peace Project aspires to deliver crutch tips to 1 million disabled people in post-conflict countries." I intend to donate 50% of the wearable art proceeds to their cause. To learn more VISIT: The Peace Project.
VIEW The Peace Project video.

THE DESIGN: Squared Circles or Mandalas can be seen within many cultures to represent our relationship to the Infinite. They are often used as a point of focus for prayer and meditation. My Peace Treaty Mandala is embedded in a tapestry of expressive abstract symbols of nature, peace, and harmony. I offer this image as inspiration towards personal and global peace.


CLICK HERE for Canvas Fashion Tote

CLICK HERE for Men and Women's Hoodies. Choose zip or pullover!

CLICK HERE for Men and Women's T-Shirts. Variety of colors!

THE DESIGN: Axis Mundi means 'earth axis'. It is a cross-cultural symbol that takes many forms, and appears in almost every region of the world. It symbolizes a bridge or connection between sky and earth or between the spiritual and the physical. This image was part of the 2012 traveling Peace Project exhibit.

CLICK HERE for Canvas Fashion Tote

CLICK HERE for Men and Women's Hoodies. Choose zip or pullover!

CLICK HERE for Men and Women's T-Shirts. Variety of colors!

Products produced and shipped by Society6.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


STILL POINT represents a state of homeostasis that is often referred to in the healing arts such as Yoga, Reiki, and Cranial Sacral Therapy. In essence, it describes a condition of spaciousness and timelessness that pulses between mortality and immortality. I see it as a place of surrender and acceptance of the things that are greater than one’s self. It is an elusive state of peace and knowingness that rests in the pause between our inhale and our exhale. 

In this series, I return to the vessel form as humankind’s signifier. Each piece is created using the potter’s wheel 
so as to contain the essence of earth’s rotation, plus the energy of balance At the leather hard stage they are carved and shaped.  Terra sigillata is used for the monochromatic, burnished surface. After firing precious handmade objects are added selectively—sometimes carved from porcelain, polymer clay, or fabricated metal. 

Each piece hopes to connect to a still point, while offering a healing meditation on quiet Intelligent simplicity. —MO

Still Point #1 "Angels Fly"

Still Point #2

Still Point #3

Still Point #4: "I built this house for you."
Still Point #5
Still Point #6

Still Point #7

Still Point #8

Still Point #9

Still Point #10: "Kiss me on the eye."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Jerry McMillan photo-etching, photo source: CSUN Web Site

I started making art seriously—with intention, around my mid to late 20’s when I stumbled into an Intermediate Photography class being taught by Jerry McMillan at Cal State, Northridge. This was pre-Photoshop era. Jerry began his classes with his famous, impassioned spiel about how a true artist must understand Art History and then attempt to move past it—he was all about “breaking the bounds of the medium.” I was working as a production jeweler at the time and saw this as an invitation to combine solid plate, pierced silver with oil painted photograph montages. This was the start of my experimentation with material, process and concept. (A few years later, when I encountered the work of Michael C. McMillen and John Frame, my work began evolving 3-dimensionally.)

Today, as we are enmeshed in the tools of technology, a budding artist/student might consider it tedious to spend long solitary hours tucked away in a cramped, smelly darkroom located in the dungeon basement area of the University. But seeking out some elusive, magical reaction with toxic chemicals and silver—that stained the fingers and burned the skin became my obsession for several years. There was something about that time that set the precedence for my work, and brought me closer to understanding the potential of alchemy and expression inherent in all material and hands-on process. The time I spent studying with Jerry became my springboard into becoming an artist.

In hindsight, I realize it’s not so much innate talent that identifies the fate of an artist—but the inclination and determination to process thoughts and feelings into material and form. At some point we have to acknowledge and honor this inescapable need. Once we begin to learn the skills of how to make art, we have a vocabulary that becomes a gateway to expression. From that point it takes a lot of courage to remain true to our vision and our sense of honesty—sometimes to the detriment of career choices, gallery relationships and security. I recognize these traits in a few of my students and am excited for them as they embark on their own personal journey as budding artists. I have come to know it as an existential discovery, that thrusts beyond the mundane side of responsibility. I cannot imagine a day without making Art. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to spend time learning from Jerry McMillan.

This is the last week to see Jerry McMillan’s retrospective at CSUN Main Gallery curated by Steven Peckman. It is a rare opportunity to see the breadth of his work. The exhibit is beautifully organized and reveals the eloquence of an artist who stayed true to his vision and commitment to breaking the bounds of Photography.

Visit: a video of Jerry McMillian's Retrospective

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
but merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
smaller and dryer than the will

Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still. —T.S. Eliot

Monday, January 23, 2012


Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into color.
Do it now.
You're covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign that you've died.
Your old life was a frantic running from silence.

The speachless full moon
comes out now. —Rumi

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


"I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.

The knowing comes: I can open
to another life that's wide and timeless.

So I am sometimes like a tree
rustling over a gravesite
and making real the dream
of the one its living roots

a dream once lost
among sorrows and songs.

—Rilke's Book of Hours I,5

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Process of Didge Making

Go walking in the desert until you come across a strange looking stick growing out of a bushel of prickly, poky, pointy branches. This is an Agave Blossom. It's best when it has reached maturity and is drying out.

Next, you put on some gloves and start peeling away the prickles. The giant root lies at the base. With patience you will begin to see it emerge...

Say a little thank you to Mother Earth for allowing you to remove her stick.

Next, you split it in half and hollow it out with a chisel. Once it is nice and even you epoxy it back together and clamp it overnight. Coat the interior with resin as well. Next devote lots of time sanding the exterior. Paint a design and then give it many coats of lacquer. A beeswax mouthpiece makes it easier to play and softer on the lips.

Many More to Come! Please Check Back Soon

Monday, May 2, 2011


My Udu drum is made from clay...

I've been wanting to make an Udu drum for a long time and finally decided to carve out the time to do so. This drum is primarily thrown on the potter's wheel in two parts. After it was formed I covered it with several layers of 'terra sigillata' which is a highly refined liquid clay. The term 'terra sigillata' means 'sealed earth'. The piece was then burnished to a high polish with a river rock. After firing, I painted it with oxide stains and fired it again to cone 05. The drum has many different pitches and tones depending on where it is tapped.

"The word Udu means both vessel and peace in the Ibo language of Nigeria." Some believe the deep resonance of the drum is the “voice of the ancestors”. It is used throughout the world in spiritual ceremonies and rituals. It can also be heard in contemporary tribal/world music.

To hear what the Udu sounds like click here.

©M. Ogilvie, 2011

©M. Ogilvie, 2011

©M. Ogilvie, 2011

©M. Ogilvie, 2011

Saturday, April 2, 2011

"INSPIRATION"— The Art of Breathing

by Michele Ogilvie, MFA CMT

EACH DAY we breathe about 20,000 times. Most of us take this action for granted; however, the quality of our breath is a very important component to our overall health and wellbeing.

The primary muscle responsible for moving breath is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a domelike muscle that sits above the lungs. Although breathing is most often considered an involuntary action, this muscle and the power of our mind gives it the potential to function voluntarily. Through conscious breathing the diaphragm and lungs can grow strong and help support our path to healing.

Inhalation + Pause + Exhalation: In order to learn to work with the breath consciously and effectively it is important to see the breath as three parts: the inhalation (inspiration), the pause and the exhalation (expiration). A generous inhalation is supplying oxygen to our blood, providing energy to the brain, organs and muscles. Body cells not only need this for energy and growth, but also emotional and physical health. Without oxygen, the body's cells would die. The pause allows the oxygen to percolate and produce a sense of rhythm and calm. The exhalation releases carbon dioxide and toxic gases as waste. Practicing to make the duration of your inhales equal to your exhales (with a second or two pause in between) is a simple way to start becoming acquainted with voluntary breathing. Try counting it out until it begins to feel natural: Inhale: 1, 2, 3; pause: 1, 2; exhale: 1, 2, 3; repeat.

One’s breath can become shallow for many reasons. Stress, emotional trauma, and illness are some of the biggest obstacles. Most of our lives are terribly fast paced and overflowing with responsibility. At times it feels as though we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders and thus our body’s recoil, our shoulders round forward and our lungs and diaphragm cave in. In this posture and circumstance it is very difficult to establish a healthy breath cycle.

Meditation, Yoga, Massage and Bodywork are excellent ways to help reestablish the breath. These practices offer space to slow down and actually listen to what’s going on in our complex body/minds. Taking time out in your busy day to experience first hand the healing potential of relaxing into a rhythmic breath cycle is one of the most basic, yet important tools to managing stress you can give yourself. Remember ‘Inhalation’ means ‘Inspiration’ —so take time out to breathe into the potential of your heART!—©Michele Ogilvie

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm honored to be selected for BLUE PLANET EXHIBITION

BLUE PLANET is an art exhibition scheduled at SOMARTS, San Francisco, CA from June 18 to June 30, 2010. It is running concurrent with Elements: An Eco-Art Conference, a visual conversation with artists and other professionals concerned about local and global environmental issues affecting our planet. (Sponsored by the Pacific Region Women’s Caucus for Art)

This exhibition was juried by Kim Abeles internationally acclaimed public artist known for her extensive work concerning environmental and social issues.

Artists Reception is on Saturday, June 26 from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at SOMArts Cultural Center, 934 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Catalogues will be available for purchase at the show.

Here is a little preview of my submissions.

Zero Point Field XI speaks to the micro and macro relationships of water in the human body and the earth. It is oil and encaustic on panel.Sacred Anatomy I is a rendering of the human torso in motion. It aims to express the fluidity and movement of water within the energy field of the human form. It is mixed media and ink.

Personal Statement: These two abstract renderings were inspired by the fact that the adult human body is between 55 and 60% water, (blood contains almost 70% water) while the surface of planet earth is covered by 70% ocean water. Many preindustrial cultures around the globe acknowledged the interconnected relationship between humankind and mother earth. Our similar water ratio offers an important consideration: that the condition and ultimate fate of the earth and all of humankind are one and the same.

There are many of us who believe we are on the cusp of a paradigm shift that advocates a return to holistic health and healing on a personal, communal and global scale. The micro/macro energetic similarities between human and global anatomy are all at once metaphorically poetic and scientific. While acknowledging Water as life sustaining Source—I offer these paintings as universal shamanic meditations towards health and healing.

To view more work from this series please visit: STANDINGONMARBLES

Participating Artists: Allison Adams, Carolyn Applegate, Salma Arastu, Mariana Barnes, Ulla Barr, Tessie Barrera-Scharaga, Rebecca Bauen, Helen L. Bellaver, Sukey Bryan, Mike Callaghan, Kimberley Campisano, Paola Coda, Joyce Cutler-Shaw, Lynn Dau, Mary Lou Dauray, Inouk Demers, Cynthia Eddings, Danielle Eubank, Trish Foschi, Sarah Beth Goncarova, Sevilla Granger, Rachel X. Hobreigh, Teresa Hsu, Ann Isolde, Uma Rani Iyli, Katherine Hisako Kodama, Audrey Kral, Linda Kunik, Mariette Leufkens, Nalyne Lunati, Leora Lutz, Meg Madison, Maggie Malloy, Laura D. McHugh, Jean B. Mills, Barbara Milman, Arlene Ferley Monzon, Leslie Morgan, Sandra Mueller, Brenda Oelbaum, Michele Ogilvie, Nora Raggio, Ally Richter, Anne W. Rosenfeld, Valerie Runningwolf, Elisa Salcedo, Pallavi Sharma, Diana B. Shore, Susan M. Sironi, Jennifer Kim Sohn, Virginia Stearns, Deborah Thomas, Leigh Toldi, Jillian Van Ness, Margi Weir, Sydney Zentall.

Monday, December 28, 2009


really awake to the life of our senses—when we are really watching with our animal eyes and listening with our animal ears—we discover that nothing in the world around us is directly experienced as a passive or inanimate object. Each thing, each entity meets our gaze with its own secrets and, if we lend it our attention, we are drawn into a dynamic interaction wherein we are taught and sometimes transformed by this other being.”
David Abram, “Trust Your Senses”

Sometimes in the rush of our lives we forget to stop and take notice that every little thing (material or natural) pulses within a field of energy. This interconnected Source produces the essence that generates life. It also determines the unique qualities and characteristics of everything we touch plus everything that touches us. Throughout history this vital force has been referred to as subtle body, Zero Point Field, prana, qi (chi), primordial cosmic energy— Divine Intelligence. My tree series called Axis Mundi expresses and celebrates this inherent Intelligence as it moves through and around nature.

Axis Mundi means earth axis. It is a cross-cultural symbol that takes many forms, and appears in almost every region of the world. It symbolizes a bridge or connection between sky and earth or between the spiritual and the physical. The symbol is both feminine and masculine. It often takes the form of a natural object such as a mountain, or a tree. Human-made objects such as totems, towers, pillars and crosses are also often associated with Axis Mundi.

I recognize trees, as Axis Mundi. The trees I have chosen to paint are city trees. I pass by them every day. They are complex. They are grounded in the expression, anatomy and motion of ordinary people, dancers and yogis. Their roots are firmly planted, while their branches reach towards the ethereal sky. These trees are symbols that express the potential of our lives. They get tangled, bend, curve and sometimes even break; yet they are always resilient and continue to aspire towards their highest potential.

As we move towards the promise of a New Year, may the trees in and around your lives inspire a dialogue of hope, peace and transcendence. —Many Blessings, Michele

Within the tides of earth breathing—
blood-red river inhaling/exhaling...
ascending heart first wearing kaleidoscope eye caps—

My left pinkie toe pinched between narrow branches,
oh sometimes it can feel so cold-stone, silvery-blue.

"I will not fly away," I say it over and over again.
Grounded in choosing colors that remind me to believe
in soul secrets and trust. —mo

To view the complete Axis Mundi Tree Series please click here.

Click here to read an Article about Michele regarding this series