Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Genesis of this series-2007

The first shrine that I had created was part of my neighborhood mapping practice for a class called Artist in Society that I was taking in my Graduate program at JFKU in Berkeley. Its premise was to look at our relationship with Nature and how does it integrate or not into our art and process. The most powerful being in my neighborhood is the majestic redwood that resides outside my front door. During my morning ritual, which includes lots of coffee and lots of staring, I always open the door and gaze up at the giant and greet him with great admiration, over the years I have named him grandfather. Also at the summer and winter solstices I celebrate his presence by burning incense and candles at the base of his truck. To me this amazing tree embodies strength and divinity.
This project has given me an opportunity to do art for the tree. Normally, he is a witness in my creative process and in this realm I feel he become an active participant.
It began with a trip to my favorite Indian store called the Indian Bizarre in Berkeley. Where I bought and array of spices and Puja powder, which is a vibrant red pigment used in traditional Hindi rituals.
As I opened the gate and walked down the path into my yard, I gasped in sadness as I saw a brilliant yellow and red bird lying dead in my path. I looked around for my three felines kids, to see if anyone was guilty. I immediately buried the bird with honor, but as I started creating the shrine I wanted to resurrect it. Was it a sacrifice?
I started creating the solar shrine, by circling the base of grandfather’s truck with the spices and pigments. I then created a series of concentric circles around the base of the tree. The pigments I intuitively placed creating a vibration between the contrasting hues. In a smaller concentric circle I embedded two power objects in the earth from various parts of world that I have been to--- a rock from the Irish Sea and a crystal that I received from a Shaman in Peru. At twilight I lit candles and placed at the four directions in the smaller circle. Lastly, at this time I documented the earthwork with photography.

Something weird began happening while I creating the shrine, honeybees had started dive-bombing into the assemblage and dying. In the morning the bees had gone crazy and were swarming in giant spiral in my yard. Instinctively I knew to dismantle the shrine immediately. Shortly, after that the bees went back to normal. It seemed from their response that I had evoked something while creating the shrine. Unfortunately, it seemed disharmonious. Was it the bird?
I destroyed the work like a Tibetan sand painting, leaving only in the earth the stone and crystal. Within the process of mapping my neighborhood I have seen in the garden a luminous blue dragonfly continuously landing on the stone. For me it symbolizes the shrine is still active.

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