THEME-SEX FERTILITY DEATH AND THE SUPREME EYE

Relationships fascinate Brice—that is, the contextual meanings derived from the interactions between people, things, ideas, Brice and his subjects, and between Brice and himself. If volume is a measure, then his interest especially includes relationships between men and women.

For the ancient Greeks, “Eros” had far more meaning and complexity than the word “sex” conjures in our contemporary minds. It included not only the drive for sex, but also the drive for love, for life, for creativity and for the preservation of the species, which is broader and seems more in accord with the topics as Brice addresses throughout his career.

However, Brice does explore the allure of sex, attraction and the ‘other,’ namely “eroticism,” as well. In the Greek classical world, “erotic love” was referred to as “madness from the gods.” One can feel this madness in much of Brice’s work whether it results in ecstasy and union or in calamity, melancholia, mourning and deathlike feelings; topics that feature in Brice’s 1960’s works.

Brice’s explorations of Eros include many aspects of male/female interaction including, love; attraction to the “other”; (the idealized “Venus” and Jung’s concepts of the “anima” and “animus”); the Taoist idea of “joining energy or essences” via intercourse; the yin/yang duality of male and female spirits; male and female powers and equilibrium, reproduction, beginnings and ends of life, and life force (Eros and Thanatos).

SEX and EROS:

SEX AND FERTILITY

Fecundity may be the first nexus of the life cycle since it provides for the transformation from non-existence to existence—a recurring theme in Brice’s work.

Archways/Passageways/Vulvas/Cervixes—beyond the literal, such elements have deep, metaphorical meanings and associations. They are simultaneously entry and exit portals that may represent initiation and renewal—the essence of life—or change: the sloughing off of an old phase and the moving on into a new one. Hence, passageways may symbolize a point of decision: whether or not to ‘pass through’ and so possibly signify the apex of epiphany of some kind.

The Ripe or Pregnant Belly: The “Temple Omphalos”—the depiction of women, mothers, with lush, full bellies show up in Brice’s work as early as the late-1950’s. Umbilici feature prominently in these female figures, marking the center of their ripe roundness while reminding that these mothers were once embryos, too—just like the embryos inside of them, whose life is in turn sustained by umbilici connected between them and their mothers. Thus, the navel is the evidence, or relic, of the beginning of life and of the perpetual rebirth of human kind.

This phenomenon of “mother” represents an eternal power and mystery in world cultures, whether “mother” is a goddess, an earth mother, or a real woman: Aztec’s Toci, Sumerian’s Ninhursag, Hindu’s Shakti, the pagan Germanic Nerthus, the Venus of Willendorf, Mary, mother of Jesus, or mitochondrial Eve—the factual maternal ancestor of all living humans. As for Umbilici, the ancient Greeks believed that the Temple Omphalos at Delphi was the navel of the world and of the primordial goddess, Gaia, who was both the personification of earth and the giver of birth to the earth and the universe.

Gaia and her earth mother sisters are central to many creation myths. Their centers, their spiritual centers, their wombs or uteri, may be portrayed as circles, pools, caves, spheres or vessels such as cauldrons that represent places of transformation and nourishment. These symbols are expressions of ideas of paradise, of the Garden of Eden, of harmony—before the onset of self-awareness, separation and individuation as the child becomes an adult with the requirement of being self-sufficient in order to survive.