The Sivalingam is a sacred symbol of the Hindus. It is revered as the manifestation of the Universal Self in His awakened aspect, in union with His dynamic energy Shakti. This prayer is a declaration of faith, obedience, love, and devotion to Lord Shiva in His aspect as the Sivalingam. On the Japanese tissue paper is the English translation, and underneath, in the shadow of the top layer, is the prayer in Sanskrit. The letters are cut from the Bible.
I've been working on this piece since last year. I'm really happy to have finished it for a show that may or may not be happening this Fall; the gallery is in transition. Regardless, it was one of those pieces that took a long time to finish, and I'm glad to have completed it.
It's a tribute of sorts to the Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The center star is comprised of their names, with letters cut from the Koran. The next ring out reads "La ilaha illa Allah", or "There is no God but Allah". The letters create a prison of their own, which is a summary of how I feel about fundamentalist religions in general. The next ring is the prisoners' Internment Security Numbers; each detainee was given a number by which he is categorized.
And so on. There are men in Gitmo who should be kept imprisoned, as they are murderers, and a threat to any country. There are men who are innocent, and who have been cleared to leave the prison, but who are still there, caught up in governmental red tape. Each man has a story, and each story deserves to be heard in a federal court. The entanglements are deep, and from what I can tell, any attention given to the situation by Obama (which is little) has been blocked at every turn, mostly by Republicans. Thus the limbo that keeps Guantanamo Bay an active prison.
This is my homage to the prisoners, their internal angst, their external prison, and their incomprehensible separation from their families and loved ones. May justice be done quickly, but it's too late for that.
I have been included in an upcoming show at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. It's call "State of the Art: Discovering American Art Now." It's a show that's been in the works for a few years, and the directors did hundreds of studio visits across the country, finally narrowing it down to 102 artists who they think represent what's going down in American art.
And that's all I know. Don't know who else is in the show, don't know how they got my name, and don't know how it'll play out in the unfolding of Universal Consciousness and Hemispheric Delights. I'm honored to have three large pieces included in the show.
In my creative work I weave together spiritual traditions by cutting up the text of holy books letter by letter and refiguring them to create passages from other holy books. I incorporate and 'cross pollinate' the sacred writings of all spiritual traditions, suggesting that all religions derive from the same source, and are sustained in the same unwavering faith.
You can see the work at my website: