ARTIST NOTES

Out-from-under
 

OUT FROM UNDER

There is a buddhist metaphor that describes the “luminous mind” as the relationship between the sky, the sun and the clouds. The sky is the space of being that has no boundaries. The sun is the clear light of awareness.  The clouds are thoughts, feelings, and challenges or blockages.

In meditation practice, it is common to get bogged down by the ‘clouds’ that arise, and to forget to receive or ‘taste’ the nourishing gifts that are readily available from being connected to the Inner Refuge.

In the lower section of this collage, the warmth of the sun seeps through building-like shapes. A ‘portal’ (the silk fabric on the right side) encourages the onlooker to take a moment and connect to unbounded space. 

In the upper portion of the piece, the clouds, in a multi-formational display of shapes and images, are engaged in lively, animated dialogue and interaction with one another. 

Uplifted by the warmth of the light and the freedom found in the boundless sky, they are a reminder for the practitioner to do the same. 

MATERIALS:

Papers from North America, France, Nepal, Japan, rope, shoe bag, silk fabric, window screening, wallpaper, particle board, Mexican bark placemat, dyed grid bark, wrapping paper, cut photos from trip to Spain, silicone squiggles, paint chip samples

DIMENSIONS:  H:48.5” x W:40” x D:3”
Framed in black

 

 

EVENTUAL PLAY

This triptych encompasses the Five Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space) that are used in the Bon causal meditative practices. These elements are always present within us to varying degrees and if needed, by doing specific practices, can be increased or decreased, to restore harmony and balance physically, mentally and spiritually. 

In the left panel, a pregnant woman turns away from the central panel in self reflection. Behind her, the Thai ‘buddha flower’ symbolizes the birth and awakening of Buddha nature. The black silhouettes, dark brown shapes, and chain, represent the obscurations that can cloud inner understanding. They are in varying degrees of releasing and dissolving. Water is the predominant element with its qualities of calmness, comfort, sensuality, and peacefulness. 

In the right panel, the lingam (masculine sexual organ), thrusts upward out of the earth toward a mountain top. The mountain top is Mount Meru, one of the holiest mountains in Buddhist mythology. Earth has the qualities of stability, focus, connection and strength, while fire (the energy behind the ‘thrust’) embodies action, inspiration, strength of will, and bliss.

In the central panel, the masculine and feminine unite and play in the elements of air and space. Air is flexible, fresh, lively and quick. Space is expansive, spacious, clear and accepting. The elements excitedly join in, and the resulting intercourse evokes sheer bliss.

MATERIALS:

Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Nepal, India, Japan, tissue and woven fabric papers from Japan, oil painting, Mexican bark placemat, plastic bathmat, drawings by the artist, cut photos from trips to Laos, Prague, Berlin, Seville, earring, discarded necklace chain, silicone, wine tags, found dot packing tape

 

DIMENSIONS: H:57.75” x W:48” x D:3”
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

Kim-Puil-Feast-Of-Ram
 

FEAST OF RAM

The inspiration for this collage came out of a personal retreat I did on the sacred land of “Chamma Ling”, in the Sangre de Christo mountains (Crestone, Colorado). In meditation practice, I had been working with the Warrior Seed Syllable RAM, bringing all of my doubt and scepticism to the ‘cooking pot’ in order to transform it.

After a week of 9 hours of practice a day, everything in my environment began to speak to me. The trees and bushes, the wind, the clouds, my dreams, and snippets of teachers’ metaphors came alive with potent messages from previously hidden worlds. 

This collage became a montage of those experiences. Spheres of light (‘tigles’ in Tibetan) appeared abundantly, and the Colorado sky and I became one, as the clouds playfully morphed into different shapes around me.

The word ‘feast’ kept coming to mind with all of its ordinary and non-ordinary meanings. In the sound healing practices for example, when sounding the sacred syllable RAM, a visualization that can be used, is to set an imaginary table for an elegant banquet. The meditator then extends an invitation to all of his/her personal blockages, challenges, and ‘sticky’ spots, to come to the ‘feast’ so that they can be ‘healed’ and nourished by the food of wisdom, equanimity, love or compassion.  

I left my retreat hungry for more spiritual understanding, and full of curiosity, confidence, and delight.

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, cut magazine photos, woven fabric and tissue paper from Japan, handmade paper from France, drawing by the artist

DIMENSIONS: H:41.5” x W:20.75”
Framed in white

 

UNDERTOW.jpg
 

UNDERTOW

This triptych was inspired by a retreat I did on the coast of Massachusetts where the emphasis was on the Five Warrior Seed Syllables. We had been focussing on the sound syllable DZA- which supports spontaneous manifestation of positive action in the outer world. As soon as I returned home, I started working on this collage.

As a starting point, I chose the jellyfish in the central panel. The jellyfish swims, buoyant and transparent, undulating in the sea’s currents -much like the breath that flows in and out while sitting in meditation. In this collage, the jellyfish’s tendrils are feet dangling and suspended in the water. 

Retreats can be intense, and I unexpectedly became caught in the undercurrents of emotional reactivity. In the bottom left hand corner of the collage, a wave or a swell of water propels a smaller jellyfish away. Tumbling with it, is a figure in black silhouette- symbolic of how easy it is to get swept away in reactivity or inadvertently fall back into the confines of one’s habitual patterns. 

The presence of the neutral sky (represented in this collage by the ocean), gently and lovingly supported me through ‘troubled waters’, whether I was aware of its presence at the time or not. The effects of both sky (space) and sea, encourage us to relax and let go. Troubles and challenges dissolve or fade into the background and new possibilities come to the surface.  

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers form France, Japan, tissue and woven fabric paper from Japan, bubble wrap, string, wallpaper, business card from store in Boston, drawings by the artist, gel sheets, silicone, ceramic beads 

DIMENSIONS: H:44” x W:82” x D:3”
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

Kim-Puil-Plugged-In
 

Plugged In

This collage is a visual meditation on the transformational work associated with OM- one of the Five Warrior Seed Syllables. These syllables are termed ‘warriors’ because they have the power to control and overcome negative emotions, problems, and dilemmas that we face in our daily lives.

The CD in the centre of the collage, symbolizes OM- which in these meditative practices, can be found in the throat chakra. In the sound practices, OM illuminates areas of the self that feel a sense of lack, or need. In sounding this syllable, the meditator connects to the innate feeling of completeness, inherent in the true nature of being, where one actually lacks nothing. The qualities of self kindness and love are cultivated, which in turn radiate outward to others.

The geometric shapes and photos, in varying degrees of dissolution, are the ‘fixed’ ideas that we have about ourselves and the world.

The earbuds, in the middle of the channel that is travelling upwards toward the CD, connect the journeyer to the dharma teachings of the Buddha (or any higher consciousness). The naked woman represents liberation from attachment to personal stories of ‘pain’.

Throughout, abstract shapes of lily pads and lily buds- North America’s equivalent of the lotus flower- symbolize spiritual purity and growth.

MATERIALS: 

Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, tissue and woven fabric paper from Japan, photographs from a trip to Tropea, Italy and Potsdam, Germany, netting from avocado bag, cut Starbucks reserve coffee cards, skull from organic chocolate wrapper, honeycomb cardboard, CD, silicone, Apple ear buds, cuttings from Inuit calendar and art book, wallpaper   

DIMENSIONS: H:48.5” x W:40” x D:5.25”
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

Kim-Puil-Fruits-of-the-Heart
 

FRUITS OF THE HEART

In Tibetan buddhism, heart and mind are not separate entities, they are one.

This collage came out of a Five Warrior Seed Syllables practice with the emphasis on HUNG- the sound associated with the heart chakra- and DZA- the sound associated with the secret (sacred) chakra. In the top center of this collage, out of a brilliant blue sphere representing boundless space, the three primary channels, or meditative pathways of light, travel downward, disappearing into the heart chakra. 

Here, the heart chakra blossoms into a bouquet of ripened fruit and exotic flowers, bringing forth the effects of HUNG’s immeasurable qualities of joy, warmth, generosity and kindness that are genuine to our human nature.

The three primary channels reappear and hover above the secret chakra. I often visualize the secret chakra as a blue-green lake that mirrors the crown chakra of unbounded, changeless space. DZA encourages blockages, or resistance to release, so that the spontaneous manifestation of positive qualities can arise and extend outward into the world for the benefit of all.

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue and woven fabric paper from Japan, photographs from trip to Hawaii, silicone, dyed bark mat, wallpaper, wine bag, gift wrap

DIMENSIONS: H:48.5” x W:40” x D:5.25”
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

Kim-Puil-Swimming-in-Elements
 

SWIMMING IN THE ELEMENTS

This collage was inspired by the Bon Buddhist practice of The Five Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. They are considered to be the substance of all things and processes. 

It is the interaction of these elements that permeates all aspects of existence including spiritual practice. 

In the meditation practice, the elements can be called upon to restore or maintain harmony and balance in a specific area of one’s life or to help another in need.

The meditator in this collage is swimming in the elements that are interacting with one another in a constant motion of ‘give and take’- balancing and supporting, providing and nourishing the ‘swimmer’ with all that is needed.

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, photo of artist in Tropea, cut magazine photos, gift bag, jewels from gift card, cut photos from Hawaii

DIMENSIONS: H:20” x W:32”
Framed in white

 

 

THE ART OF GROUNDLESSNESS

 

The origins of Bon’s causal roots are in the shamanistic practices of ancient Tibet. For the Bon practitioner there are varying practices directed towards “harmonizing the relationship between the individual and the environment by working with non-physical beings and the sacred energies underlying nature”. (Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche)

The inspiration for this collage came from waking up early one morning to the loud caws of 2 crows outside my window. I hadn’t heard crows in the area for a very long time and was really taken by the urgency in their sounds. It felt like they were deliberately bringing me a message.

Shortly afterwards, uninvited change visited me and the ensuing free-fall was palpable. I wanted to create the feeling of what it is like to navigate uncertainty and in the journey, finding the trust one needs to continue along the path. 

In this collage, the crow is falling and plummeting through space but there is no ground below her. A shape that looks like a crocodile arises from below ready with open mouth. The journeyer (crow) is kept buoyant on the currents of the teachings as fear is met and embraced and the crocodile’s power dissolves as it is recognized as just an energetic projection of the mind.

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Nepal, India, Japan, tissue and woven fabric papers from Japan, matt board, paint chip samples, found metal, flyer from MOMA, advertisement for Toronto Antiquarian Book Fair, entrance tickets to the Gold Museum-Bogota, Columbia, prosecco top and wrapping, cut photo of underwater, found child’s shoe, found young peregrine falcon feather, silicone, drawings by the artist, found metal hinge

DIMENSIONS: H:48" x W:45.5" x D:3"
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

ADOBE RETREAT HUT.jpg
 

EARTH IS MY WITNESS

While looking at a beautiful picture of a Buddha that I had taken in Thailand, I remembered the story of the moment of Buddha’s enlightenment while sitting in meditation under a bodhi tree. The demon Mara challenged his spiritual  accomplishment and cried, "Who will speak for you?” and at that moment the  Buddha touched the earth with his right hand and the earth roared, “I bear you  witness”. 

This collage is about that moment. I visualized all of the elements coming together in joyful interaction and saw the Buddha, the tree he was sitting under, and the earth as one. The silk fabric with a circle on it represents a portal of awareness and a ‘door’ that is used in meditation practice to usher the practitioner into the  awareness of unbounded space. Unbounded space is described as the natural sky of being. In this collage it is depicted by the brilliant blue of cut photos. 

We are all interdependent beings. The telephone cord and plug-in wires superimposed upon nature- although inorganic, facilitate and encourage us to reach out, communicate and share with one another. 

The tomatillo skin is a reminder of one of the primary teachings in buddhism, impermanence, and the wisdom that comes when we are able to find ease and grace in the world of change.  

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Nepal, India, Japan, tissue and woven fabric papers from Japan, cut photo from trip to Tropea, Italy, paint chip samples, dried skin of a tomatillo, feather earring, silk fabric swatches, found wood, telephone cord, wire connector

DIMENSIONS: H:26” x W:39” x D:2.25”  
Framed 

 

 

DONDE EL CIELO Y EL MAR SE UNEN
(WHERE THE SKY MEETS THE SEA)

This collage combines 2 meditative practices in Bon buddhism- that of the primary Dzogchen practice of abiding (resting) in the Inner Refuge, and of the Five  Elements practice of connecting to, retrieving, and embodying the essences of the elements found in nature. 

While in Mexico, I spent a lot of time on the beach. The elements of earth, water, fire (sun) air and space played all day long. The air and water on the bay was soft and feminine. Towers of clouds billowed upwards out of nowhere, shifting,  morphing and dissolving into one another, guided by invisible currents of air. 

I felt stillness and movement at the same time and was reminded of how the element of space maintains its qualities of openness and vastness while allowing all to arise within it, without bias or judgement. Watching and being a part of this transformative passing of time, was much like traveling into the depths of my inner core- where thoughts, memories, and projections arise from and dissolve back into the base of all- the body of emptiness.  

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, assorted tissue paper from Japan, fabric, wallpaper, discarded airplane tickets from trip to Frankfurt and Madrid,  silicone, found crushed metal, cut photos from trip to Berlin

DIMENSIONS: H:39” x W:27.50” x D:2.25”  
Framed in black

 

 

TAKING IT TO THE CUSHION

There are 4 sections to this diptych. The first layers that were applied to all setions were the blues, greys and greens to depict what is referred to in meditation practice as the mother space- kunzi (tibetan)- the base of all.   

In the bottom left quadrant, the ego’s drama is represented by a conglomeration of colourful shapes and a map that has an ‘X’ on it. The map represents the feeling of being lost or disconnected. Hovering on top of this structure that represents “me” (you), is an outline in the form of a Buddha, encouraging the practitioner to em-brace one’s challenges (pain) by ‘taking them to the cushion’ in meditation. 

In the opposite quadrant, pain has lessened, released, and dissolved into the protective space of Inner Refuge where there is much more freedom and room to breathe. 

The upper panel, representing the sky (space), is full of movement (clouds) and appearances. The dragon in the right quadrant, encourages the practitioner to be fearless in their quest to awaken. The map reappears with the words “you are here”, a reminder that in any given moment, one can “wake up.”  Centre top, is my version of the Bon Dzogchen master, Taphiritsa, pointing the meditator to the  
innermost, naked essence of the primordial state and true nature of mind. 

Uniting and encapsulating all of these experiences in the present moment, is the image of the circle, the sacred symbol in Zen buddhism that suggests to the student to stop striving for perfection and to allow the universe to be as it is. In Bon buddhism the circle (tigle) is a non-dual single sphere of light representing a  quality of consciousness. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Nepal, Japan, discarded  cardboard, found woven bag, business card and coaster from trip to Bogota and Cartagena, wallpaper, silicone squiggles, discarded wine cork wrappings  

DIMENSIONS: H:41” x W:47” x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

UNION

The inspiration for this piece came from the last of the 5 minimal instructions of the great Bon Dzogchen teacher Dawa Gyaltsen: 

Vision is Mind  
Mind is Empty
Empty is Clear Light  
Clear Light is Union  
Union Is Great Bliss

While contemplating the meaning of “Union Is Great Bliss”,  I remembered one of my teachers telling us not to be thrown by the words ‘great bliss’- that bliss could simply be a feeling of peace or some other positive quality.  

The image of the tibetan yab-yum came to mind. (in the physical realm, the  classical figure of the female and male united in sexual union - in the philosophical realm, the primordial union of wisdom-female; and compassion-male) 

In this collage, the light brown, female figure leaps ecstatically onto the darker brown, male figure engaging in playful, sexual delight. The world around them mirrors their bliss and the energetic attraction and eroticism that can be found in nature.  

The colours used  have an associated quality: deep reds are the heart and desire, blues are the opening and release into expansion, yellows are the spontaneous warmth, love and joy that arise from union. 

The sun (the light of awareness in meditation terms) is represented by wine labels and chinese herbal pill wrappings. The pill wrappings are a play on Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s analogy of informally taking your medicine daily- a reminder to connect with the sacred pills of stillness, silence, and spaciousness in any given moment of reactivity or challenge. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Nepal, Japan, matt board,  Mexican bark placemat, fake eyelashes, discarded wire and metal casing, recycled cardboard, vintage Tibetan colouring book, wallpaper, chinese herbal wrappings, packing foam, fabric, silicone squiggles

DIMENSIONS: H:46.50” x W:39.50” x D:3”  
Framed in plexiglass box

 

 

WORKING THROUGH IT

Often our confused states of mind and reactivity can cloud and obscure our natural wisdom and clarity. One thought or moment of confusion can quickly multiply into another and before one knows it, the mind (our so-called ‘reality’) has become an overcrowded, ‘bounded’ space. 

While beginning this collage, the image of a shaman or minotaur came to mind and I kept thinking about how a shaman is able to transform one state of reality into an-other.  

The pastry brush in the left upper section of this collage, is symbolic of clearing or sweeping away personal reactivity that obscures the connection to the clear, open, spacious nature of being.  

Below the brush, the practitioner leans back in meditative repose as confusion and the overactive conceptual mind (‘moving’ mind) spirals throughout the collage. Glimpses of clarity and open space are juxtaposed against the mind’s projections while awareness (oranges and yellows) supports the shaman in his transformation. 

Unperturbed, the shaman is grounded and rests on a panel of skulls (impermanence). One leg, looking very child like, moves towards the face  reminding the one who is suffering to release the limitations created by mental  disturbances and their attached stories. In my teacher’s (Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche) words; “ in order to make changes, you need to begin with your own face.” 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, wallpaper, cut photos from a trip to Spain and Berlin, honeycomb cardboard, silicone, Mexican bark placemat, pastry brush,  rubber matting, wire, artisan beer cap, rubber washer, shoelace, ribbon, woven  vintage fabric miniature flags, black netting

DIMENSIONS: H:44” x W:48” x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

AUTUMN DISROBED  

A prolonged autumn- glowing colours, mounds of leaves and bare trees- were the inspiration for this piece. 

As these ‘bare trees’ took shape for this collage, they reminded me of how in  specific Bon practices one is instructed to “nakedly observe” one’s pain body, pain speech and pain mind (ego). To “nakedly observe” means, that the meditator does not become enticed by the drama and stories that are attached to one’s pain.  In meditation practice, you practice to “leave things as they are” by not engaging, not elaborating, and not pushing away what is occupying the mind. 

In the upper right corner, a ‘cut out’ of the Tibetan symbol HUNG (associated with the heart chakra), dances like a kite on currents of changing winds. A monk-like hermit in the forest (found bark) looks towards the middle of the collage. 

In the centre of the collage, naked trees (the meditator) are bent over a salmon coloured tissue paper that evokes the shape of a mother and child, a common metaphor used to depict the first two doors (aspects) of Inner Refuge.  

Traditionally, unbounded space (the mother) and the light of inner awareness (the son) are inseparable and the recognition of this deep connection births all the virtues and positive qualities that bring benefit to ourselves and others. (great bliss) 

A silicone squiggle of an outline of a bird with giant wings (wisdom and  compassion in traditional meditative teachings) hovers over ‘mother and child’. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, wallpaper, ink drawings by the artist on mat board, silicone, found bark, elemental  compound paper, cut Starbucks reserve coffee card, coaster, logo from The Japanese Paper store for handmade papers

DIMENSIONS: H:28.25” x W:40.75” x D:2.25”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

CLIFFS OF NEWFOUNDLAND

While meditating one day during a vacation to Newfoundland, it felt like the wind would blow me off the island, it was so fierce and forceful. The waves of the sea were dashing against the rugged cliffs and even the seagulls were having a hard time staying airborne. Then, within an instant, the weather changed - the wind  vanished, the sea became calm and a clear stillness emerged.  

When caught in the throws of our own ‘internal winds’, my teacher likes to advise his students to take one of the “three precious pills” that refer to the three  meditation doors of stillness, silence and spaciousness. This means that ‘on the spot’, one can remind oneself that in the midst of the bluster, one can lessen the suffering that naturally accompanies the ‘winds’, by taking a ‘pill’ and connecting to something other than one’s pain. 

In the collage’s foreground, cut from a paper made from bark fiber, there are two ‘giants’- the cliffs- one male and one female. Center-right is an architectural  structure that represents a portal: one of the three doors or ‘precious pills’. Through the portal one can see golden light pouring down from the distant cliffs and the emanating rays of a tigle (non-dual sphere of light).  

In the upper panel, sails sheet in a ‘windy’, yellow sky. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, cut photos from a trip to Tropea, Italy and Potsdam, Ger-many, mexican bark placemat, push pins, paint chip samples, cut Starbucks  reserve coffee cards

DIMENSIONS: H:47” x W:39” x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

ANCESTRAL SPIRAL

While immersed in a week long retreat practicing the Five Warrior Syllables, we were asked to extend the sound healing to our ancestors and any karmic traces that might have appeared. Within the non-judgmental space of the seed syllable A, the seed syllable RAM was sung, over and over again, to extend the warmth of its  illuminating fire to all those in need whether alive, dead, known or unknown. 

This meditative experience, and a trip to Joshua Tree in California shortly after, were the inspirations for this diptych.  

In both panels, abstract shapes of ancestors and spirits gather round a circle of reds, oranges and yellows that symbolize the transformative and healing powers of RAM’s roaring fire. 

Rising out of the fire is a translucent female figure. Her heart is a sphere (tibetan: tigle) of sky blue and a tear (my own) stains the paper. The tear, which fell as I was working on this piece, has been included to express the vulnerability and fragility of the heart as it opens into love and compassion.  

The beige elevated figure to the right holds her focus upon wisdom’s heart. Im-printed upon her own heart chakra is the tibetan symbol A- the primordially pure space that is the very ground of our being and where it is said that secret karmic obscurations dissolve at the source. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, coaster and cut business card from trip to Cartegena,  Columbia, drawings and ink paintings by the artist, wallpaper, silicone, cut Gravity Pope shoe bag, cut Toronto Karma Cup cannabis competition promo, found dot packing tape

DIMENSIONS: H:58” x W:49”x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

HOLDING ON TO SUMMER’S LAST KISS

While working on this piece, I found myself thinking about meditation practice and some of the obstacles one is cautioned about. For example; when the practitioner experiences a ‘good’ practice, the tendency can arise, to want to prolong the ‘good’ feeling for as long as possible or effortfully and intentionally try to reproduce the same feeling the next time one practices. 

It was early September and summer seemed as if she was going to prolong her  glory. I had just come back from a day’s walk along the Scarborough Bluffs. My spirits soared and I wanted to keep the feeling of summer forever. 

Emptying my ‘treasure’ bag of found objects that I had picked up on the walk, my attention kept coming back to a piece of old crushed rubber. This piece of rubber became the starting point for this collage. 

In the upper right corner of the piece, a bronze, gauze bag is superimposed upon the sun. It spills its contents of oranges, pinks and yellows. Amongst abstract shapes of driftwood, underbrush, sand, and waves, the crushed rubber looks  upward, it’s mouth open, as if wanting to catch and swallow the glorious day. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, cut business card from trip to Cartagena, Columbia, wallpaper, ink drawings on mat board by the artist, paint chip samples, silicone squiggles, elemental chart, run-over metal, discarded pressed rubber, jewelry bag, Mexican bark placemat, pushpins, upholstery fabric

DIMENSIONS: H:40.50” x W:28.75” x D:2”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

AQUAFIRE

Snorkelling off the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, I was transfixed by the brilliance of the turquoise waters and the hidden world of the coral reefs below the surface that teemed with life.  

At the time, I was reading a book by my Bon Dzogchen teacher Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche called Form, Energy and Light. He described Dzogchen (an advanced from of the meditative state) as the great knowledge of space and light. “Space is the empty Great Mother from which all things arise as a luminous display, in which all things have their existence, and into which all things dissolve.”   

In the bottom panel of this collage, a beige manta ray suspends itself looking  upwards into a pool of light. On its body are 2 ‘jewels’ that are symbolic of“Buddha’s eyes” or wisdom eyes. The coral reef surrounds the perimeter. In the bottom righthand corner, a brown, drawn rock formation represents the indigenous and elemental spirits that are found throughout nature and above it a pale orange dragon or seahorse looks into the center of the panel. 

In the top panel, light from above spills into the water. A jellyfish floats in the  center, evoking the feeling of transparency or dissolution, while in the upper left corner, a creature, (could be you or me!) is making its way out of a net or ‘web’ of  obscuration and illusion that is preventing him from knowing the true nature of  being. 

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, wallpaper, ink drawings by the artist, Gravity Pope shoe bag, silicone squiggles, avacado bag of netting, belgian chocolate molds, roped bag handles  

DIMENSIONS: H:58.75” x W:48.75” x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

IN THE MIDST OF IT ALL

This collage depicts the experience of being caught deep in the fires of reactivity where the ‘me’ and the ‘you’, become ‘fixed states’. Reactivity (emotionality) propels each person to hold on even tighter to the entrenched patterns of their perceived personas and realities.  

The two main figures in brown, are engaged in an intense interaction. Between them reactivity swirls around in energetic shapes. As we come to know in  meditation practice, unbiased space (the blue shapes) and light/clarity  (the yellow shapes) are always present, even in the heat of the moment. 

The words “nowhere to go” are an indication to lean into the present moment of re-activity no matter how uncomfortable. From a practitioner’s viewpoint, the heat of the moment, is a perfect opportunity to alter habitual patterns by connecting to something other than one’s ‘pain’. We do this by focussing on one or more of the 3 doors or accesses to the Inner Refuge. (stillness, silence and spaciousness)  

Central in the top panel, a couple dances, knowing that love heals all and that the challenges one encounters along the way, are just a part of the dance of life. 

MATERIALS:
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, wallpaper, ink drawings on mat board by the artist, silicone squiggles, crushed metal can, rusted wire, window screening, wine cap, scrapbook initials, paint chip samples

DIMENSIONS: H:42” x W:49.75” x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

INFUSION

This collage depicts a modern rendition of a much revered, Bon Buddhist tantric practice of connecting to the all-encompassing Mother of Wisdom and Love:  Sherap Chamma. The practice involves visualizing and embodying through the  visualization, the qualities of loving kindness and wisdom in order to heal and help oneself or others.  

In the practice, the meditator imagines and then ‘becomes’ the peaceful diety/goddess, who is adorned in a magnificent array of colours and golden light. In her right hand she holds a vase filled with golden nectar, that later in the practice, is poured into the meditator’s crown chakra via the central channel. (an imaginary channel of light that runs vertically in front of the spine and opens at the crown) In her left hand, the goddess holds a mirror upon a beautiful flower encouraging the practitioner to see his/her own true nature of being. 

In the larger panel, 2 black figures represent the left and right sides of the practitioner. The sacred vase and mirror are associated with each side. Between these halves, the blue central channel is receiving a waterfall of healing golden light. 

Above these figures is a round diagram of the heavens. The goddess and her countless manifestations travel to all areas of the universe in order to retrieve and bring back the healing qualities that you need. 

The right panel evokes the expansion of space, the play of light and the dissolution of form. 

MATERIALS :
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, wallpaper, perfume box from Hermes, silicone squiggles, cut business card from Cartagena, perfume bottle, cut photos from trip to Paris and Seville, beads from bracelet, paint chip samples

DIMENSIONS: H:40.75” x W:48.5” x D:3”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

NO MUD, NO LOTUS

This collage arose out of a Guru Yoga practice that begins a session of traditional meditation. The student in pure devotion and trust connects to and unifies with the enlightened essence of the master (teacher) and all those who have gone before him/her.  

The buds and stems, housed in the upper panel, rise above the muddy water that the lotus flower grows in. The cardboard cut-out is purposefully unpainted so that the viewer can imbue in their imaginations their own colours of possibility and  potential.

The saffron orange tie represents the dharma (saffron is traditionally one of the primary colours of a monk/nun’s robe). The tie points to the root of the lotus plant. The pinks in the background symbolize devotion and love as well as the desire to know one’s true nature of being.  

The lower panel is symbolic of the ‘mud’ of the buddhist aphorism: “No mud, no lotus”.  Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Zen master) explains the aphorism:    
“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the  lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud”. 

The tree bark, reminiscent of a snake shedding its skin, represents the journey of transformation in meditation, as one sheds old habits and constricting beliefs that limit us. The wire configurations, two-fold in their meaning, are a depiction of both the structure of ego (‘pain identities’/suffering) and the tendril of the lotus root that makes its way towards the surface and ultimately blossoms into the flower of  happiness. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers form France, Nepal, India, Japan, tissue and woven fabric papers from Japan, silk fabric, silk tie, journal cover with bamboo and string, honey-comb cardboard, wire, pizzeria business card, felt, shed bark of a sycamore tree, wire, roof shingle, corrugated paper, Mexican bark placemat, wine tags, packing foam, paint chip samples, gel sheets, cut photos from trip to Potsdam, Berlin, Thai-land

DIMENSIONS: H:52.25” x W:48.25” x D:3”  
2 separate panels framed in 2 plexiglass boxes

 

 

THE ILLUMINATING FIRE OF RAM

RAM is one of the Five Warrior Seed Syllables that represents the burning fire of  potentiality. It is associated with the navel chakra. In the teachings, the navel chakra is often referred to as a rice cooker where negative emotions are slowly ‘cooked’ and transformed into the ripened qualities of the heart.  

“Bring the demons of your conflicting emotions to the fire of RAM.” (Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche)  

This collage evolved from something one of my teachers said comparing the conflicting emotions in the above quote to “howling wolves salivating.”  

In one sense, the self feels that the ‘wolves’ have come to consume it. In daily life, conflicting emotions do have that effect. In the meditative practice, the ‘wolves’ are coming to the fire, because they need the nourishment of the ripened ‘feast’- the positive qualities of the heart.  

The still life oil painting in the centre of the collage symbolizes the ‘rice cooker’.  

At the top center, a favourite shirt of mine, worn until it was so ripped, it could no longer be worn, rises up as the ‘illuminating fire’. It and the tomatillo skins are a reminder that change is happening all of the time and the more one learns to ‘lean into’ it and let go of one’s resistance, the easier things will be. 

At the top center, a favourite shirt of mine, worn until it was so ripped, it could no longer be worn, rises up as the ‘illuminating fire’. It and the tomatillo skins are a reminder that change is happening all of the time and the more one learns to ‘lean into’ it and let go of one’s resistance, the easier things will be. 

In the bottom right corner, a mesh screen and picture of a remnant of the Berlin Wall that has been turned into a public work of art, is symbolic of the possibility of transformation. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, Nepal, woven fabric paper from Japan, wallpaper, oil painting by the artist, window screen, wool rope, artist’s shirt, tomatillo skins, photos from trip to Potsdam, Germany and Berlin, cut Star-bucks reserve coffee cards

DIMENSIONS: H:48.5” x W:40” x D:5.25”  
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

INKLINGS

According to the buddhist teachings, we all have karmic imprints. These imprints,  comprised of traces of energy, thoughts and reactivity remain within the  mindstream of the individual influencing every moment of experience positively and negatively. 

In the self-transformative journey, the practitioner embraces and ‘hosts’ one’s  imprints in the protected sanctity of Inner Refuge. These traces can show up as an  habitual tendency, desire or aversion to something or, a blockage of some sort.  The encouragement to the meditator is to expand one’s connection to the ‘base of all existence’- the body of emptiness and clarity… so that the pain or karmic  pattern leaves no trace…much like the example of writing your name on water and  watching the form of what you have written dissolve. 

In the studio, while reflecting upon the words “leave no trace,” memories of my visit to Bogota, Columbia kept arising where the graffiti artists are world-renowned. Using this as a starting point in the lower panel, graffiti and calligraphy intertwine in a landscape. 

The upper panel, representative of spaciousness, contains traces from the bottom panel as well as from its own. The traces are in varying degrees of ‘dissolution’ -dissolving form into formlessness. 

The “i am Space” wooden button reminds the meditator of the true nature of being. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, wallpaper, cut photos from trip to Spain, postcard from The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, Gravity Pope bag, ink drawings on mat board by the artist, found crushed soft drink cans, San Pellegrino wrapping,  silicone squiggles, upholstery sample, dyed woven bark, paint chip samples, wine label, cannabis clinic business card, cut Starbucks reserve coffee cards

DIMENSIONS: H:49” x W:40” x D:3”
Framed in a plexiglass box

 

 

RECEIVING OM’S LIGHT

This collage is about connecting to the gifts received from sounding OM, one of the Five Warrior Seed Syllables. 

OM is the infinite energy, luminosity, or awareness that arises within the vast, open space that is the base of all existence.  

In the sound healing practice, the meditator brings to OM any sense of lack, emptiness or experience of incompleteness that they may be experiencing. The vibration and power of sounding OM dissipates and dissolves the patterns that are ‘holding’ those feelings. Having cleared the energetic obstacles, the practitioner is much more able to connect to and experience the inner space of being that is open, clear and limitless in possibilities.  

The gifts of compassion- first for oneself and then extended outwards to others (with ‘mirror-like wisdom’) arise from the knowledge that our true nature is inherently complete and pure; and not contingent upon causes and conditions. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Japan, India, Nepal, tissue paper and woven fabric from Japan, green fabric fringe, silicone squiggles, wallpaper, drawing by the artist

DIMENSIONS: H:41” x W:25.50” x D:2”  
Framed in silver

 

 

DECONSTRUCTION OF EGO

This collage is about attachment (clinging/grasping) and non-attachment; and the courage and trust it takes to begin the journey in meditation of looking at and  dismantling the seemingly solid structures and identities that make up so-called ‘ME’. 

In the central panel of the collage is a shaman that is both male and female representing transformation. He /she, set in a cradle of chaos composed of hexagonal shapes and body parts, is suspended in the ‘mother space’. 

This chaos represents the feelings that can arise when starting on the path of self-liberation. Ego has a strong grip on us. The body parts that are in varying stages of coming apart are symbolic of the process of dismantling or dissolving what keeps us bound to suffering- the habitual patterns, thoughts and concepts of what we think is ‘real’. The shaman’s gaze is turned towards the light that is the clarity of inner awareness and the wisdom of knowing that attachment can be a cause of  unnecessary pain.  

The right and left panel represent the flow of air and water. Connecting with these elements in meditation or in the outer world of nature, can help to soften and make more malleable the hard edges of fixity in the self. 

Throughout, shapes of imaginary fish swimming in the sea or falling from the sky represent the quest for happiness. 

MATERIALS: 
Cardboard, papers from North America, France, Nepal, Japan, wallpaper, Mexican bark placemat, oil painting, plastic skeleton, fabric, wine cork, drawings by the  artist, cut photo from trip to Seville silicone, gel sheets

DIMENSIONS: H:49” x W:76.25” x D:3”  
Framed in white