Artist Danielle Van Ark And Her Magnificent Sand Carpets Art
It takes any textile weaver a very long time to create a beautiful carpet by hand. So can you imagine if after all that hard work, the piece was destroyed and all that remained of it were the pictures taken while it existed? To some, this may sound like a nightmare, but for artist Danielle van Ark, this is an essential aspect of her artwork. She creates unique sand carpets that are as beautiful as they are ephemeral.
About The Artist Danielle van Ark
Danielle van Ark’s work is best known in the Netherlands but can be found in collections in several other countries as well. Her notable exhibitions include Foster Gallery in the U.S., Huis Marseille and De Nederlandsche Bank in the Netherlands and Moins Un in Paris, to name a few. She resided at Rijksakademie from 2011 to 2013 and graduated from the Koninklijke Academie in The Haag in 2005.
Her artistic endeavors go beyond the renowned sand carpets. Much of her portrait work focuses on how human connection can be conveyed through pictures. Danielle utilizes what she calls nostalgic elements in framing these compositions. She is also known for her sculptures in bronze and ceramic. Through all of her work, Danielle van Ark repeats the theme of the passage of time, and nowhere is this statement more poignant than with her sand carpets.
The Vision Behind the Sand Carpets
A question Danielle van Ark asks about her work, could be just as fitting in a philosophy classroom, as it is in talking about the meaning of the art itself: “Does the work evolve around the process or the product?” In seeking her inspiration, van Ark traveled to the province of Drenthe to study the traditional process of making sand carpets. She found that the women of Drenthe had used farming patterns such as crop circles and flowers since as early as the 19th century.
Van Ark wanted to expand upon this theme in a way that merged her style with the method used in Drenthe. She uses her contemporary designs while also taking inspiration from the patterns present in Persian rugs, which she studied at length. The result is a graceful style that is uniquely her own while giving a nod to the traditional art of Holland.
Even when the work is fated to oblivion, van Ark commits to making each sand carpet a perfect and harmonious vision of beauty, spending as much as five weeks on some of these pieces. Her designs often incorporate symmetry and repeating patterns such as one might find on a Persian carpet or an Oriental rug from Arraiolos in Portugal. The repetition ranges from complex interweaving patterns to uniform geometric shapes to more familiar images like cats and smiling faces.
The entirety of the journey to creation is what makes this art whole. As such, van Ark films the sweeping away of every piece. She aspires to combine this work with her ceramic pottery by creating unique urns to store the sand of each individual carpet. Indeed, van Ark herself says that the project is continually evolving in both concept and form.
There are a number of specific methods that the artist employs to get to a finished product. Her handicraft is evident in the figures she achieves with templates that she sculpts by hand. To create the patterns, she actually uses a cake-icing bag. With this tool, she dispenses the sand on the outlines she marks on the floor with pencils and tape.
The Enduring Significance Of The Fleeting Sand Carpets
These fascinating sand art carpets made by van Ark give the observer pause. They invite us viewers to contemplate the impermanence of things. This spiritual aspect of Danielle’s work seems to echo the sand mandalas made by Buddhist monks. It is a tradition for monks to create intricate and happy colorful mandalas of sand that represent the spiritual teaching of the Buddha. For these monks, the creation of the mandala is as much a meditation as it is a process of artistic creativity. Buddhist sand mandalas are destroyed after their completion with the very intention of guiding the monks to contemplate the ephemeral nature of the material world.
The effect of this kind of work reaches deep into the problem of human existence. We live in a world where we strive to achieve things such as beauty, success and happiness. Yet despite all the time we spend trying to make something perfect, in the end, we are destined to die. Like the sand mandalas of the Buddhists and the sand carpets of van Ark, we too will one day disperse back into the Earth from whence we came.
Art gives us opportunities to get in touch with our spiritual selves or to make personalized statements of style. While you cannot find any of van Ark’s finished sand carpets at Nazmiyal (or anywhere else for that matter), you will find in our selection mesmerizing designs ranging from historic Persian carpets to modern rugs.