Seeking Bliss

I have been on quite the journey since the last time I posted. I packed up and left Chicago, was planning to move to San Francisco, then through a convoluted series of events I found myself in Sunny Los Angeles. I like LA. Its always warm and sunny, the people are neat, and there is a ton of art.

All that aside, I’ve felt impatient with the transition. Impatient about making new friends. Impatient to “be” where ever it is I envision myself in the future. Impatient to make art. Time is simultaneously way too fast, and way too slow.

In hopes of finding some wisdom from the beyond I spent the afternoon exploring different concepts of patience. I researched the meaning of the word. Read through various philosophical and religious perspectives. After a while I decided to meditate and draw a card from the Triple Goddess Tarot. I drew “Infinite Bliss” today, a card I don’t often pull, which transcends the traditional 21 cards of the Tarot. I was immediately drawn to the description of the goddess archetype for the card: the Great Bliss Queen of Tibet.

Naked and red in color, She stands, one foot slightly in front of the other, on a radiant Sun-disk. In Her right hand, She holds a small drum of skulls, which is played raised to her ear. In Her left hand, She holds the handle of a curved blade that rests at Her side. Beyond are a series of luminous, rainbowlike bands of color arranged in a semicircle. Finally, a band of flames encircles the entire image.

While meditating I had pondered an artistic endeavor centered around bringing consciousness to patience. To be patient, according to Google search, means to have the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. With this in mind, I imagined a project with a tedious task, such as creating an image through a series of seemingly redundant steps. After reading the description of the Goddess I knew I had found the subject for this idea.

Here is the final result of my Patience Project:

IMG_3035

 

To create this final piece I sorted through piles of magazine images to find the various symbols described above. As I sorted I kept coming back to the mantra of patience. More than once I noticed myself speeding up, becoming less diligent in looking for what I needed, or feeling anxiety about finding the right images to create what I saw in my minds eye. When I noticed these impatient thoughts, I would pause and recommit to my experience.

Once I found all the images I wanted, I cut them out with great care. I often rush and fudge cutting images out because I am so excited to get to the final result. Once the images were cut out I traced them onto the page. I decided at the beginning that I didn’t want to merely create collage of the Great Bliss Queen. I wanted to deepen into the practice of patience through repetition. Tracing the images took time, and I had to stop and reset at several points. After I had traced all the images I began embellishing the lines with Paint Pens, and allowed myself some creative license. Finally, I cut the final composition out and mounted it.

The whole process, from when I finished reading the description of the Great Bliss Queen to taking the picture above, took about two hours. I had created quite the mess, and even though I had other things to attend to I felt that cleaning everything back up was an important part of the process. Normally I would simply leave everything out, as tidying up my materials before starting often gets me in a good headspace for creating art. That being said, it felt good to leave my studio space tidy and spacious.

The Mess

The Mess

After completing my piece I was curious to see how the Great Bliss Queen of Tibet is normally represented. I couldn’t recall ever seeing a picture of the Goddess. I was surprised by how close my drawing was to traditional representations of her. I was especially tickled that the image for the body I chose closely mirrored the body position chosen for her in other works.

Great Bliss Queen of Tibet

I was inspired by this artistic meditation. I am curious what other images of the Goddess I might feel compelled to create, especially as I continue exploring this theme of patience. Rumi said “Patience is the key to Joy,” and if that is true then I am determined to find the Key to Patience.

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Horned God Diptych

 

A long time ago I found an image in National Geographic of a man holding an elk on his back. The image felt ancient and haunted to me, even though the article was about Canadian hunters and the lives they lived. I searched through magazine until I found other images of deer/human crosses and planned on creating a horned god triptych.

I knew I wanted the colors of the final paintings to compliment the wall colors of my home (which are currently lime green, purple, and teal) and that I wanted the original images to be the main focus. However, once I started playing with the images I realized my original inspiration no longer worked with the other images I found. I ended with a male and female diptych, which are currently in my front hallway. They are mixed media works with a acrylic, oil, watercolor, tissue paper, and the found images.

Horned deities have been present in religion for a long time. In Egypt there was Hathor, Goddess of joy, feminine love, and motherhood. In Greece there was Pan. The Celts created images of the nature god attributed to be Cernunnos. Even Christianity has images of horned beings. In more recent times Horned Deities have come to represent sexuality, fertility, and nature, often becoming the masculine counterpart to the great goddess. I liked the images of the horned male and female, and went with it even though its less conventional. For more images of horned people visit my deer people pinterest board.

In The Beginning: A Sound Art Project

In The Beginning
2012
Time: 6:38 
Created for Intro to Sound Art Studio (ARTS 3097)
Professor Dr. George Rivera
 

Statement

I wanted to make a collage of sounds for this project. Most of my art is multimedia and I didn’t want to stray away from that theme for this project. I collected a lot of sounds, some found, some created to blend together and create the ambient soundscape I am presenting. I recorded words from my poetry, lines from Genesis in the Bible, and blended that with found recordings from nature. I was interested in constructing somewhat of a narrative with the aural collage. I narrowed my selection down to these sounds because not only did they sound elegant and beautiful, but they held the eeriness, mystery, and tragedy of the story I wanted to tell, the creation story of Eve, mother of humanity.

I have always been fascinated by the story of Adam and Eve. The Fall of man is such an interesting beginning for humanity because it is full of ambiguity. It is such a short narrative, with very few characters, and the majority of the tale has been left up to the imagination. With so much left unsaid about the creation of man and their fall from paradise, thousands of individuals for generations have looked back and tried to make sense of where we might come from. From God, From a garden, From a rib, From a tree of knowledge, From the deceptions of one lone snake? So many swirling possibilities that I too had to tackle this elusive story with my own interpretations and retell in once again with sound.

Zen Playground: Inspiration, Analysis, and Interpretation

It is as difficult to understand Zen Gardens as it is to understand one’s own self. (Parkes, p.10)

Zen Playground” was a performance I created in December and various different inspirations were synthesized to create my final project. Artists discussed in classes, concepts discovered in other lectures, and previous aspirations from my own life came together to create this performance piece. The performance revolves around three key ideas: physicality, inspiration from children, and appropriating Zen imagery for a western audience. The original concept came to me many years ago when I discovered this small play area that evoked the image of a Zen garden to me.  The work had been bubbling away in my mind since I had first found the playground back in high school. The play park had a series of small rocks alongside various play apparatuses in an somewhat circular space. I immediately was struck with the idea of recreating a Zen-like garden in the playground. Since this initial inspiration I have learned more about Zen and have created a clearer vision for my appropriation of the Zen garden concept.

Several artists from the Gutai movement sparked my interest from Ming Tiampo’s article Gutai: Decentering Originality, because they drew their inspiration from youth. Murukami Saburo’s “At One Moment Opening Six Holes” from 1955 was originally inspired by his son throwing a tantrum and ripping through the paper screen in their home. This work is extremely provocative because of the amount of physical involvement the artist had on its creation. Watching the artist struggle his way through a series of screens is almost painful to watch. At the end of his performance he is panting and sweating in front of his audience. The Gutai movement is deeply entwined with two of the main principles for my own performance- physicality and children. “Early Gutai sought originality by investigating the nature of creativity. One place they looked to as a model was children’s art, (Tiampo, p.24)” I wanted to use the children’s playground to this same affect, drawing inspiration from where children play rather than how they play.

Another idea that I drew inspiration from was my lectures on Zen in professors J.P Park’s “Art In China” course. We spent two weeks discussing the origins and principles of Zen in his lecture. Three concepts from the Zen practice that stuck with me were that (1) enlightenment could occur at any time, (2) that children were closer to enlightenment than adults, and (3) that enlightenment could be achieved through repetitive tasks. The masters that codified Zen practices were anti-sutra and in general contrary to previous Buddhist beliefs. Instead of sitting and reading about enlightenment, actions and thought had to be taken to reach it. Spontaneous action in juxtaposition to repetitive action replaced previous Buddhist traditions. The act of working on a garden was a logical repetitive task that could possibly lead to enlightenment and also served to help the monastery through the cultivation of food.

Allen Weiss discussed the various aesthetics, symbols, and stories that have come to be included in Japanese thought, specifically in regards to gardens. He explained the experience of a Zen garden as follows:

Each person arrives with different beliefs, different expectations, different protocols of viewing. Where one finds the living presence of nature, another seeks a revelation of the transcendental void, while a third discovers sublime beauty. One need not become a Buddhist monk seeking satori to appreciate the Zen garden, yet, as with all art, the form and depth of appreciation depend on what one brings to the scene. These temples and gardens are thus simultaneously sites of meditation, magic, devotion, knowledge, curiosity—even commerce, play, and profanation. (Weiss, p.128)

His explanation of the function of Zen gardens lead me to believe that any artistic license I took on the concept would be acceptable. Huineng, the sixth patriarch of Zen, was often in favor of breaking down old traditions and re-appropriating ideas. In many ways Zen is all about anarchy, paradox, and irony. Zen gardens also function as a form of visual Koan. A Koan is a form of riddle that has no answer. Through puzzling through the nonsensical question with a nonsensical question enlightenment might possibly be reached through escaping normal trends of thought. The synchronicity between the inspiring artists of the Gutai movement, my own inspiration for this performance, and these concepts within Zen Buddhism was extremely exciting.  Keeping this in mind I went forward with creating my own garden at the playground.

I chose to use a child’s toy rake to groom the garden. Not only did it create an aesthetically pleasing line in the sand, but it also visually linked the viewer to a child’s role in the performance. Raking the garden was much more physically exhausting than I anticipated, but the repetitive and concentric circles helped establish a rhythm and reflected the physicality that had inspired me in other art pieces. In the end I was quite happy with the garden I created. Unfortunately I had wanted to work on the garden for more time but technical and weather issues prevented me from executing the performance as perfectly as I wanted. Originally I wanted to stop whenever a child appeared to play in the park, and start over once they left. No children came to the park for the full duration of my performance, and ironically as I was packing up my materials two families came to the park. This aspect of the performance was out of my hands. Also it snowed and was cold the first day I planned to perform, and so I had to reschedule to a day when there was no more snow.

Luckily, I was struck with another ray of inspiration for the music of the piece. Two men came to play basketball in a nearby court while I was working on the garden. The sound of the ball hitting the rim for the net reminded me of sounds I associated with Buddhist temples. I looped the audio clip to create a rhythmic chime. This creation of a sound that would perceived as authentic, when in fact it was completely fabricated. This idea is similar to the music Jaye Rhee created for her “Cherry Blossom” performance. She plucked at a chinese instrument to create a composition that sounded asian, but in fact was not. Incorporating this into my final video finalized the appropriation of Zen visuals and sounds for a western audience. In all I was very happy with the performance and it accomplished almost everything I hoped to.

Bibliography:

Berthier, François, and Graham Parkes. Reading Zen in the Rocks: the Japanese Dry Landscape Garden. Chicago, Ill. [u.a.: Univ. of Chicago, 2000. Print. 

Park, JP. “Zen.” Art in China. Visual Arts Complex, Boulder. 18 Oct. 2011. Lecture.

Tiampo, Ming. Gutai: Decentering Modernism. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2011. Print.

 Weiss, Allen S. “Heimits Of Etaphor: Ideology And Representation In The Zen Garden.”Social Analysis 54.2 (2010): 116-129. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Dec. 2011.

Need- An exploration of modern mythology

Need

Starting today  I want to upload one image of my art and talk about it, as a reflection for myself.

I created this collage at my parents house while in my freshman year of college. It was one of those works that comes together seemelessly. All the pictures, colors and texts came together with ease and speed.

The work corresponds to a conversation I had with a friend about who our Gods are in the modern day. They had read a book on “Modern Magic” and it discussed Gods such as “Score”. “Need” is my modern goddess, a word that is so common in our world today. I have tried making other collages to create a series of works based on this idea, but none of them have been successful.