Beg, Borrow, Steal

The assignment was to appropriate. The term appropriation refers to the use of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work[2] (as in 'the artist uses appropriation') or refers to the new work itself (as in 'this is a piece of appropriation art'). Art practices involve the 'appropriation' of ideas, symbols, artefacts, image, sound, objects, forms or styles from other cultures, from art history, from popular culture or other aspects of man made visual or non visual culture.[3] Inherent in the process of appropriation is the fact that the new work recontextualizes whatever it borrows to create the new work. In most cases the original 'thing' remains accessible as the original, without change. Sometimes it's re-contextualized by being copied and pasted onto a personal web page. (All the above text has been appropriated from Jonah Huangs website which appropriated wikipedia.)

For this assignment I was immediately reminded of doing Takahatsu(or alms receiving) with the monks in Japan. We were not technically begging but offering disaster preventing dharanis as well as other chants which speak of the receiver and giver being the same and then offering the opportunity for the people to donate. Although the people of Japan had to do back breaking labor for the little money they earned they still gave not because we needed the money more than them but because they genuinely thought we could do more with their money and furthermore they had faith in the dharanis and the transfer of merit.

I'd also put Takahatsu into practice one other time since my experience with the monks. I had ran out of money in Tokyo and having no funds to return to Kyoto let alone sleep or eat in Tokyo I had decided to make a sign which read "Parents Killed by Ninjas, Need Yen for Kung Fu Lessons." Strolling around the urban jungle a man had seeing my decorated backpack and asked me if was a painter. After a very broken conversation and use of a laptop on the street I found he had wanted me to paint his salon! He paid for all of my food, lodging, train fair and double what I asked for!!!

"Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, "here, my poor man", but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself.It is not the reciever that is blessed, but it is the giver.Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect." Appropriated from Swami Vivekananda

Thus for this project I decided to "beg" for a charity or rather offer Dharanis or didi's off my didgi(eridoo), "borrow" people patience and time and then "steal" their money. Furthermore while I was downtown performing I saw a number of people dancing in the streets with their ipods on. I decided it looked like so much fun that I to would put on my iPod and join the dancers. The trib came down and interviewed me, asking me what I was doing for which I replied the only sense to make out of change is to plunge with it and join the dance!



For this Project I was assigned to illustrate a story written by another student that went along the lines of her and her sister were being being baby sat and getting along well for a couple of 5-8 year ol' youngens. Well the student wanted to play with one of her sisters dolls and her sister willingly obliged but began removing the shoes and the baby sitter stopped her and asked what she was doing. The sister replied that she was removing the shoes because the student would lose them. The sitter shouted "sharing is caring" and demanded the sister to not be selfish and hand over doll with accessories included. A half hour later the shoes were nowhere to be found...

I immediately thought of the wicked sisters and the ruby red slippers from the wizard of OZ. I found a  particularly interesting part of the story to be that the wicked witch of the east was also the ruler of the little munchkins, that is until the house came crashing down on her and the munchkins were thus free to do what they thought best for them.

High Quality Semi-gloss photo finish prints 10X15" available in a variety of styles. $20.00


Paper Phoenix; Erasure

 Our assignment in Ideation was to create a piece by erasure, that is create art through the act of erasing, deconstructing, destroying...

For this project I remembered meeting the Kanin(that isthe Kancho or Head Priest's right hand man) of Eiheiji(the largest Zen Temple in the world!). The Kanin was a fascinatingly accomplished person whom was trained to die as a kamikaze pilot but given his life when the Atom Bomb dropped. Ever since the Atom bomb of Hiroshima, there had been a flame kept inside of a little red lantern. This flame was fueled by suffering, by pain and rage, and as the Buddha had said holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal with the intent to throw it at someone, you are the only one whom gets burned. The Buddhist monks believed that everything moves in a circle and recognized that the only way to extinguish this fire was to return the flame to the source. Organizing a group of monks together, the Kanin and crew flew to America and walked a great distance carrying the lantern to the gates of Trinity where the flame was born. The security resisted at first, but seeing the peaceful parade and the children with tens of thousands of cranes, with each containing a prayer for peace, they decided to open the gates. The band of peaceful people entered and opening the lantern they burned a specially prepared prayer on a long cloth along with thousands of cranes and a scrupulous amount of karma until the flames had extinguished themselves. The children`s prayers reached the heavens and were truly the key to getting into the gates of trinity and extinguishing the flame.

To resemble the phoenix, the bird born of ashes of old, I folded a paper crane and than deconstructed the bird to leave an empty sheet. Although the paper still carries traces of old in the creased folds, the paper is otherwise empty, not to be seeing as nothing but as a blank slate of unlimited potential where further creation can occur.


Back to School

My first illustration project was to make an illustration of a random word pulled out of a hat and make it fantastical! I drew "school" which really struck a note with me as I've been catapulted out-a-stout(University of Wisconsin) across the globe to live in the monasteries of Japan and study in a Buddhist University(Ryokoku). Returning to the United States I went to Yoga School through Corepower yoga, circus school at Xelias Aerial Arts after that and am now truly at the most fantastical school yet, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design(MCAD).

I decided for this project I really wanted to use my experience with Buddhism as Buddhism is really a school of thought, that is conditioned thought processes. I've met a number of Buddhist monks tell me they are not even religious and have no faith! but that they are merely spiritual philosophers whom verify practice in action. Even philosophically debates often come out with nothing! I decided to portray the Buddha as a sad clown because although Buddhists say that Life is Suffering primarily due to desire, attachment or the belief that they are separate, Buddhist's know that it is through suffering that we actually grow, that through the eight-fold path we find the release of desire, and the right view of being connected and thus the Buddha clown has a blissful smile under his mask. I chose for the close up of Buddha to be holding the shambhavi mudra with his eyes. The shambhavi mudra is used to synchronize the hemispheres of the brain and can be practiced by focusing on your nose with both eyes and eventually on external objects as well. At first you may experience some pain and this is from the hemispheres fighting each other in which case it can help to focus on a deity to help allow the body to surrender to a greater power and relax into the meditation.

My final piece was about movement. I found the paper and discovered the motion which suggested an upward rising motion. Immediately I thought of a man being being launched from a kannon. Everytime I've left a school I've felt as if being launched into life with a new set of skills and knowledge. The other acrobats among the composition suggest students to the teachers as well as the nature of flying through space. However this piece is not finished, it is my intention to lay a net over this piece as every-time I attend a school I build a net for myself to land in;  I guess it leaves something for me to work on...


The Final Judgement?

Many buddhist paintings contrast hells with the heavens as means of "teaching aids" and in particular depicting the hell realms as larger to show people what to avoid and grow out of as well as means to point to the heavens. The Lord of the Dead (Enma in Japanese Buddhism or Yama in Tibetan Tantra/Hinduism) lives on the border in a liminal place. This is a rare image to see in Buddhist paintings as Buddhists primarily believe that no one should make judgement of heart or mind as all things are interconnected, impermanent, illusory and further more there is the belief that there really is no such thing as good or bad as compassion that is sympathizing suffering can certainly appreciated by many whereas ignorance stemming future suffering can be rather unfavorable but what is really good and bad when all things are empty existing out of conditionally dependent origination with no absolute essence but rather impermanent potentiality? Buddhist's believe when you judge someone you only judge yourself.

Yama, the lord of justice and time, is portrayed as the mover of samsara and guardian of spiritual practice whom plays a roll that is seeing to pass judgement on those who are dead to send them to the appropriate rebirth on earth in heaven or hell. The dead will meet the judge and be asked in front of a mirror of their naked soul where their motives originated and to as whether they saw the messenger of light. Yama is a symbol of one's own karmic accumulation  and is a solidified self-reflection which will make one's karmic consequences manifest appropriately (or inappropriately) in a realm with evil doing being noting compared to the punishment in worlds after the death. The judge is  really ones consciences impartiality to that of love and righteousness and the mirror is the memory. The moral to be found is to not be so hard on yourself!

 Yama was born as a holy man whom was told if he meditated for 50 years, he would achieve enlightenment. On the final day of his meditation he was interrupted by two thieves whom had a stolen bull. After beheading the bull in front of the hermit,they ignored his pleas to be spared for but a few minutes and beheaded him as well. In his near-enlightened fury the holy man became Yama, the god of Death. Taking the bull's head for his own he killed the two thieves and than decided to kill everyone in Tibet. The people of Tibet, fearing for their lives, prayed to the bodhisattva Manjusri who took up their cause. He transformed himself into Yamāntaka, similar to Yama but far more powerful and horrific. In their battle, everywhere Yama turned, he found infinite versions of himself. Yamāntaka defeated Yama and turned him into a protector of Buddhism.

Yamantaka (Daitoku in Japanese Buddhism) is the terminator of death. Terminating death, that is ending the cycle of rebirth and samsara, can be considered the goal of the journey to enlightenment. We all can experience three kinds of death, that is the end of our physical life, the end of our inner ignorance to the true nature of non-dual reality along with our instinctual habitual grasping and aversions to the objective "real" objects stemmed of ignorance and finally the secret death of the subtlest level of clear light and illusory body. The mind of pure light is able to perceive that death has no intrinsic concrete existence and that our understanding of death is all relative to the the world. Realizing Yamantaka is realizing buddhahood and thus one gains immortality through transcending death. 

All of the realms of life are depicted between the jaws, or in the arms of a monstrous Yama. Yama is sometimes shown with a consort that is the physical manifestation of his shakti or inner feminine energy. Shakti derives of the goddess Shakta whom set forth the wheel of manifested life by bestowing her healing spirit into the womb of every species on the earth. Shakti is in all things as a man is both mother and father, he to contains an inner femenine energy. Thus the manifestation resembles the law of correspondence "as within, so without." Your outer world is like a mirror that reflects back to you what is going on in your inner world. Everything that happens outside of you corresponds to something that's going on inside of you. When we say that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world, we mean both at a conscious and at a subconscious level.

The fear of death follows from the fear of life.  A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.  ~Mark Twain