Thursday, July 10, 2014

Captain Ahab's Soliloquy to the Whale's Head

Captain Ahab's Soliloquy to the Whale's Head
Moby Dick, Chapter 70
Letters cut from the Brahma Sutras
16 1/4 x 10 1/2 in.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

O Brahman

O Brahman
Letters cut from "The Confessional: A Full and Free Inquiry 
into the Right, Utility, Edification, and Success, 
of Establishing Systematical Confessions of Faith 
and Doctrine in Protestant Churches"
14 x 11 in.


I'm not quite finished with this piece; need to build up some more depth with the letters. I love the contrast between the absurd complexity of one text and the utter simplicity of 'tother. There's a threatening stamp employed throughout "The Confessional" that counsels the reader to:


HA. I am so all over that. If they only knew.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stammering Away

But then again, what has the whale to say? Seldom have I known any profound being that had anything to say to this world, unless forced to stammer out something by way of getting a living.

- Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Three Jewels of Refuge

The Three Jewels of Refuge
A Buddhist Prayer for Protection
Letters cut from a very old German Bible
11 x 14 in.
(detail above)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tat Tvam Asi

Tat Tvam Asi
Letters cut from the Kabbalah
Acrylic paint
13 x 9 1/2 in.
(detail below)

"Tat tvam asi" is from the Chandogya Upanishad, and it means "Thou art That". It communicates the mind-scrambling concept that you, yes You, are the supreme and infinite energy of the universe. You are, in a word, it. Tell that to the Pope, to your preacher, to anyone who tries to tell you who God is. You don't need to be told; you already know. Even if you don't know, you know. It's the greatest mystery; it's the astonishing realization at the core of all spiritual paths. It's anathema to all religions, and they'll fight you tooth and nail on it. But the mystical branch of all religions knows, and the homies got your back on this one. Tat tvam asi, Amen.

I cut the letters from the Kabbalah because when it comes to mysticism, they win the prize. Maybe not Miss Congeniality, but Most Likely to Succeed. The eyes are made of parentheses and periods. This is the first time I've included painting in one of my text pieces. Jury's still out, but it was sure nice to dust off my paints and give my brushes a workout. Ah...painting. Still searching for a way to include that in my work, without overpowering the text.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chanting the Square Deific

Chanting the Square Deific
by Walt Whitman
Letters cut from a very old German Bible
11 1/2 x 11 1/2 in.
(detail below)

Last Christmas my husband gave me this amazing, old, yellowed, forlorn, German Bible that we had unearthed in an antique shop in the East Village. Omg. What a find. For one thing, it's so old that it could have been written by Moses himself, had he been bilingual. And for another, it's so large and heavy that even if he'd written it, Moses would've needed help carrying it down from Mount Sinai. So no, it wasn't scribed by Moses, but it's sufficiently old and crusty for my use.

As anyone who reads my blog knows, I cut up holy texts and turn one into another. But every now and again I use a text that, strictly speaking, isn't technically sacred. I figure it's my party, I get to make the rules, and after all, who really cares one way or 'tother? So this is one of those occasions where I slipped in a "profane" text, meaning that it has no claims to being the voice of God. You've undoubtedly heard of Walt Whitman, the transcendental American poet. He wrote this piece, "Chanting the Square Deific", which gives voice to the Christian Godhead represented in the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. And then he adds a fourth voice, creating a quaternity – the voice of Satan:

Aloof, dissatisfied, plotting revolt,
Comrade of criminals, brother of slaves,
Crafty, despised, a drudge, ignorant,
With sudra face and worn brow, black, 
but in the depths of my heart,
proud as any,
Lifted now and always against whoever scorning assumes to rule me,
Morose, full of guile, full of reminiscences, brooding, with many wiles,
(Though it was thought I was baffled, and dispel'd, and my wiles
done, but that will never be,)
Defiant, I, Satan, still live, still utter words, in new lands duly
appearing, (and old ones also,)
Permanent here from my side, warlike, equal with any, real as any,
Nor time nor change shall ever change me or my words.

Christians are so quick to dismiss Satan, eager to banish him from our tarnished version of Eden. But darkness is as present as light, and arguably that which gives context to all that we cherish. I don't believe in Satan, and I don't believe in evil. But I believe in giving voice to the shadow side of humanity, from which our notions of evil emerge. Whitman, a humanist, would apparently agree. I love that he includes our darkest fears in the Trinity, and stirs them into the mix of our human condition.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ten Hail Marys and a Glory Be

Ten Hail Marys and a Glory Be
Letters cut from "The Buddha's Golden Path"
10 x 30 in.
(details below)