As I am moving toward my MFA candidacy show in the Spring of 2018, I am thinking a lot about the space between meditation and art. For me I see an artistic practice as a lifestyle, much like a yogi. A practice in which one does not simply clock in and out of like a standard job. My artistic practice is very much a practice in which I am conditioning my skills on being present. I dive into my artwork to dive into my mind and enter the space of emptiness where my body and mind are completely at ease. In western society we call this flow, and in eastern societies we call this emptiness. Nevertheless the content is the same; the definition of the flow theory is accessing the “mental state of operation in which the person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” The definition of the Buddhist theory of emptiness is, “ an ontological feature of reality leading to a meditative state of mind or a phenomenological analysis of experience.”
After traveling to India for a two week artist and residency program focused upon spirituality, I discovered a new definition for this "lofty" concept. I mean what does it even mean to be spiritual? Much like my view on an artistic practice, I have concluded that there is no definitive answer. Spirituality exists within the practitioner. One may determine their own spiritual context in life and it may take a lifetime to find out. It may be in religious constructs, or perhaps in cooking, being in nature, or for me, the making of artwork.
There are no rules.
A spiritual practice is the quest of the self. where one confronts the great mystery of being human and within that find a method for which they experience joy.
So basically it’s about the embodied experience… the collaboration of the senses and the thinking mind that drives me to make work. I find that process drives me to enter this state of mind, but process isn’t necessarily the work itself. It’s through repetitive movements and actions that I am able to get to that place within myself. “Meditation in most traditions tries to calm and focus the mind, but also to integrate the person: to bring the body, mind, and action together, to bring the senses and their objects (seen, heard, thought), together.”
I am drawn to flameworking as a form of meditation because the singular act of making things alone leaves me with only myself and my thoughts to make decisions on. This is quite different from what I am used to in the hotshop since I usually work with a partner. I choose to make loose plans and trust my intuition to make the forms that I believe are laying somewhere in my subconscious.
Intuition is this word that I keep coming back to and have recently tried a bit harder to deconstruct. Intuition to me is ancient knowledge that we aren’t even aware we have. It happens when we understand something right away without having to look for deeper reasoning. It comes from the experiences that we have had prior to the present moment and the experiences that are embedded in the chemistry of our cells. I truly believe that humans are a microcosm of the universe and that we are all made of the same stuff. On a looser end of reincarnation, I don’t see how we aren’t in some manner a form of reincarnated energy. Physics states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed. To become one with that theory, I have begun to view myself as energy, just a burst of life right here right now… and eventually I will become something else. I feel connected to the sense of myself as energy especially when I am dancing or practicing yoga. When I can really feel my body and my body is the driving force of my expression, I enter the state of emptiness I long for. Art is the best way to practice being present, being awake in daily life, making work is how I tap into that.
I think that our senses have allowed us to understand the world in a way that is much more complex than the mind alone, and through making artwork, I am able to access bits of of that realm of my being. Just simply being a conscious being allows us as humans to understand life on a complex level compared to other species. We are aware that our lives are short, we are fragile. We don’t really know what humans are for, and we spend most of our lives trying to figure this out. One thing I firmly believe in is that I am the creator of my reality. Perception ( the resulting product of being conscious) of myself and the world in which I reside is something is fluid but always changing. Perception is something that I cannot avoid, and it is essential to being human. I am interested in how we as bodies occupy space, and how our presence makes a difference to the spaces that we encounter. How these bodies hold who we truly are, and become vessels for which our daily lives are experienced. My interests in the intangible, transient and unseen stem from the desire to deconstruct my essential self.
My artwork is not about suffering but rather transcending the feeling of suffering. I feel that I am constantly trying to discover through making. I have the desire and my hands have the need to make, but the why is not always there in the beginning. I know that I seek a truthful and authentic obsession with our purpose as human beings, but how can I answer this question when our entire species has spent our evolutionary lifespan trying to figure this out? It’s through the process of making that I gain clarity and a deeper understanding for why it is that I am doing what I am doing. I gain insight through making, I learn more about myself, my work, my life, and where is is positioned in the world around me. I hope that a viewer can gain some insight into their mindfulness in life as well. My main goal in making art is to find a sense of clarity in my own life- to find a sense of joy and be present in the moment of whatever it is that I am making or doing.
These books have guided me, perhaps they'll guide you too.