Akron Soul Train Gallery, Akron, OH
Early one brisk morning while sipping tea in the California sun gazing at the beautiful golden landscape that lay before me, I noticed tiny sparkles dancing about in my peripheral vision. Turning my head towards that flitting light revealed the source as a dewy spider web sparkling in the sunlight. Looking closely, I saw that at each web intersection sat a jewel-like water drop reflecting the environment and all the other “jewel” droplets within itself.
I was captivated; my mind was blown by this vision infinite interconnectedness. An understanding came over me that all beings and things are connected, and a knowing that often things are more connected than we realize.
Shortly after this enlightenment I became aware of the ancient Buddhist creation metaphor, “Indra’s Web” (also known as “Indra’s Jewels” or “Indra’s Pearls”) as described by this quote by Sir Charles Elliot:
“In the Heaven of Indra*, there is said to be a network of pearls, so arranged that if you look at one you see all the others reflected in it. In the same way each object in the world is not merely itself but involves every other object and in fact IS everything else.”
Historical Decorative Arts and contemporary inspirations experienced from living many a place as an Artist in Residence over the years in Philadelphia, California, China, and Ohio weave themselves together like Indra’s net in this multi-media installation titled “Interwebbing”.
My never ending drive to combine many a media including ceramics, fabric, pattern, print, vibrant color, and reflective surfaces together into a dynamic installation of still life arrangements that harmoniously reflect further highlights the inter-relatedness of all dimensions and things. Such combinations visually and energetically speak about growth, nature, place, metaphysics/alchemy, compassion, and issues of being a human(itarian) in these twilight zone times of our lives.
Vinyl stickers of hearts, faceted gemstones, flourishes, beads, and hand mudra symbols flow across mirrors intermingle with large format digital prints of California landscapes, studiosettings, and realistic looking delicate porcelain flowers. Flowers made pre-pandemic during my Blanc de Chine Artist Residency in Fujian, China- a tea growing region located at the beginning of the Silk Road where the purest porcelain clay is found and ironically also where the renown monk Bodhidharma introduced Buddhism to China.Photographic images of places and pieces from past experiences are brought into the present space/time and juxtaposed, to be reflected on physically and mentally.
In February 2020 when I was in residence pursuing the next level of my formal spiritual practice, the first pieces (large pastel portrait heads drawn on newsprint) for “Interwebbing” commenced. Drawn on the floor of my living space situated directly above the Zendo (group meditation room) at Green Gulch Zen Center, Green Dragon Temple in Northern California- a truly special and uniquely energetic place located in a national park and Muir Beach (a panoramic print is included in the installation) where people from all over the world visit and meditate together.
After only a few months of focused study the pandemic reached lockdown status and eventually it became time return to my native land of Ohio and ride it out with my family and spend time sewing pieces of fabric together creating patchwork quilt tops and working on bringing all individual parts of “Interwebbing” to realization in tandem with the continuation my formal Zen practice studies with Tree Leaf Zendo in Japan via daily Zoom sitting sessions. In this way of adapting I was attempting to bring my multi-media works together at the same time my internet digital world was eclipsing the real world.
The Akron Soul Train Artist Residency has allowed me to focus and finish the works as well as produce a complementary large format digital print series of my patchwork textile pieces with remarkable results that opened a new pathway for presenting my photographic imagery. For that I am extremely thankful.
*In Hinduism Indra is celebrated as the deity that rules the heavens in the sky and rain. He is known for destroying the symbolic evil that obstructs human prosperity and happiness by bringing cleansing rains and sunshine.
Pieces within the Installation:
Jewels of Perfect Wisdom Quilts:
Three patchworked quilt tops are featured, two closely related in idea to the “crazy quilt” pattern popular in the late 1800’s - turn of the century and was usually composed of repurposed pieces of clothing & bedding fabrics. The fabrics of my quilts have personal significance, memory, and meaning having been collected from friends for years. Another pattern found in the small room is a “Bargello”, meaning flame in Italian and is arranged in a pattern that is an abstracted visual representation of the universal OM sound.
These images sprung out of visions had during my mediations of fantastic, otherworldly landscapes blooming with flowers and floating abstract shapes of pattern, color, and light sparkle.
Works on Paper: Pastel and Cut Paper Drawings:
These drawings are of large portrait heads found on Tibetan Tanka deities; White Tara medicine Buddha, and blue Kali dripping with golden earrings and a necklace composed of skulls and heads.
Large format Digital Prints:
Images taken during my travels and Artist Residencies over the past 5 years collaged on the gallery walls along with mirrors are adorned with a select vocabulary of vinyl sticker designs related to the concept of the installation. One series of large format prints originated from a high resolution direct scan of a 10” x 12” section of a patchworked crazy quilt textile panel that was incrementally blown up and digitized until it became colorful pixilated glitter.