Though thesis has come and passed (I can't believe graduation was almost half a year ago!), I have been yearning to post these to my blog, as well as their process. For those who were not able to attend the show, this body of work focused on my Buddhist upbringing, combining Eastern aesthetics with common Midwestern imagery. I researched various flora and fauna, and combined them with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that have found themselves in my life. For a better explanation, here is my thesis statement that stood alongside the pieces:
"Creating art is similar to meditating. One must be present, constantly recognizing each and every mark they make. The level of concentration for each process is deep, and immovable. For as long as I can remember, art has been my meditation. It always brings me back to a state of awareness that no other process can recreate.
Growing up, meditation was commonplace in my family. As a child, I remember sitting silently next to my parents, tracing the patterns I found in the woodgrain on the floor. At other times, I would intensely study the artwork that sat above the altar. As a result, these images etched themselves into my mind. The rich, illustrative paintings told fantastic stories of Buddhist deities and tales of compassion and awareness. Each figure existed for a specific purpose – to aid those in need, to provide spiritual and physical healing, to magnetize good thoughts, and to care for those who suffer.
While I have passed through life and shared its experiences, I have found my own meanings of compassion, healing and spirituality. These pieces are the manifestation of those findings. They are a combination of tradition and experience. While the Eastern imagery has been the backbone and heart of these works, my midwestern roots have become the soul. In turn, creating these pieces became a meditative process that lead me to new personal discoveries.
I have found that divinity, strength and compassion find themselves in each and every individual’s own worldliness. From homeopathic remedies, to traversing the hills of Northeastern Kansas, to witnessing the extravagant monarch migration, I have experienced the presence of these spiritual figures – these are my monarch mudras, and sunflower sutras."
When I first started this project, I admit that I was nervous to put this part of myself out in the public. Though I personally respect and support Buddhist teachings, I worried how the public would respond. I feared that people could take offense with my more stylized approach to these figures. However, I placed those fears aside, and decided to focus on the process and the joy it gave me to see these six works take shape. Each one was an intense learning experience. What has been even more rewarding however, is the absolutely positive response I have received in the last few months from practicing Buddhists and communities. These works have found themselves in Kansas, Seattle, and Milwaukee - in personal altars and within galleries. People have found them empowering, healing and meditative, and this is one of the major reasons I decided to pursue this project. Their greatest accomplishment has been their communicative nature, and their ability to reach people near and far.
I will be adding a few photos of the progress and the people who made these possible in the next post!