Mar 31, 2007

Everything Tries To Be Round

You have noticed that everything an Indian does is in a circle and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round... Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle. The nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.

-- Black Elk, Oglala Sioux Holy Man

Which is the long way 'round my saying that I love this art. I won't be posting the images here, because I think they're proprietary, but Edward Winkleman has reproduced a number of images by Julie Evans. If the spheres within sheres print I included in my last post looks like something that was snatched out of my head, this is like a kind of jazz riff on what goes on inside my head. From the press release:

Evans works slowly and painstakingly, rendering delicate garlands and intricate mandalas, and filling large expanses of color with tiny, countless, vertical strokes. She creates ambiguous spaces within spaces that are at once both micro and macro in realm, keeping the viewer up close to these intimate works, but with the sense of their broader reach into place and time.

She has worked in India and Nepal, including travel and research supported by a Fulbright Scholarship studying with a master of Indian miniature painting. Critic Mario Naves wrote of Evans' work that she "creates vistas infinitely more expansive than the physical parameters of the paintings support. Clearly the conventions of Indian miniature paintings have become second nature to her."

These pieces definitely evoke mandalas and what I find really interesting is the use of sacred geometry. I'd have to break out my tiny, little, screen-sized calipers -- in other words, something I do not have -- to determine if the proportions are exact, but there looks to be a lot of use of phi ratios and golden mean spirals. There are also beautiful lotus images throughout.

I've been thinking a lot about lotus's lately and recently added a handful of the nicer images I could find to the art gallery. The lotus image is one that has been so overused in spiritual circles that it's been largely reduced to a cliche. The symbolism is so profound that I think this is unfortunate.

When we moved into our new house last year, one of the items left behind by the previous owners was a bowl of black, decorative rocks, with a cheap, fabric lotus plunked on top. You could have knocked me over with a feather. I really don't think they were Buddhists, so the imagery is probably completely accidental. This, in part, is what makes it so profound. Amazing the way we all just pluck these things out of the Akashic record, without the vaguest notion that we have done so. The image, of course, evokes the Buddha's "Lotus Sutra." Loosely translated: From the darkest mud comes the most beautiful lotus. So I have kept it. Tacky, Michael's, fabric lotus and all.

But my fascination with the lotus is more rooted in Egyptian mythology and owes to something I plucked out of the Akashic record many years ago in meditation. I scribbled the images down because I did not understand them at all. It was a disjointed collection of death/rebirth images. In the middle of the page was this strange looking flower with a face emerging from the center. It was only years later that I stumbled on the Egyptian lotus mythology that explained the image. Here's the short version from A Dictionary of Ancient Egypt:

The lotus signified Re' 's power and birth and was celebrated in the Loutus Offering, a hymn sung in the temple on festival days, especially at the cultic center in Edfu. The hymn referred to the god Re' as the "Great Lotus," which emerged from the primeval pool at the moment of creation.

Perhaps someday I'll write the long version, which is complex and beautiful with tendrils moving through numerous myths. But for now I just endorse you to look at Julie Evans's art.

Also of interest on Edward Winkleman's blog, a discussion of the abortive attempt to exhibit the chocolate Jesus. I just don't understand the outrage. Is it the Easter season conflation of Jesus with a giant chocolate bunny? Or is it the presence of the penis? Because I'm pretty sure Jesus had a penis. I know the Biblical accounts don't go into too much detail on that, but even so. With all his rantings on sacrilege and bigotry, I wonder what Bill Donohue's views are on, say, the tomahawk chop. So far I think he's been mum.

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