Thursday, June 12, 2014

How I Came to this Moment

The serendipitous joining of gloves and branch
is my answer to last month's question.

My Start  

Many years ago I was privileged to be at a workshop with Kazuaki Tanahashi at the Zen Mountain Monastery.  It was October 1990, and the beginning of my quest to explore spirituality.  I was so moved by the experience that I’ve always thought of it as a turning point for me. 

Sometime after that I met Barbara Bash. I can’t remember where or when but I clearly remember each workshop and encounter with her and her brush.  It moved me in incredible ways.  At a mountain retreat, a journey to WSW, and many other experiences, each of which I remember clearly even if I can’t remember the exact dates or places, she took me into the world of the Big Brush.

My Journey 

As my craft took me on my own journey, I found myself at Haystack Mountain School for an indigo dye workshop. Though not very interested in  indigo dye per se, I tagged along to support a close friend. We were asked to bring treasured items to dye with the indigo.  I took a collection of used workmen’s gloves that I had been gathering over the years.

The workshop was fun and play, but at the end of the 2 weeks each participant had to show what they had done and learned.  Spontaneously I found a small branch and took my gloves and fashioned a big brush with them, then taped together many sheets of white paper on which to mark.  My life has always been about dance so I thought  to use the brush and the indigo dye to make my mark as part of a dance.  My friend photographed the performance and I kept  the photos as a sort of treasure.  I know not why.  Serendipity at work perhaps.

My Reckoning 

Last August I had my 79th birthday and could not wrap my head around that number.  The last time I was overwhelmed by my age was my 25th birthday.  Somehow, the number 79 seemed to mark me deeply.  How could I shoulder the next year and become “80?”  That emotional hurdle spurred the evolution of “MARKS, Here & Now.”  From the beginning, it’s been less about an audience reaction to my project and more about me simply making my mark.

My Project 

I have studied calligraphy for several years and enjoyed it immensely but never felt it was my mark, but rather an Asian mark.  I thought my own abstract interpretation would be a more authentic mark.  

After experiencing an amazing exhibit at the Jewish Museum of a video performance of dancers, I was inspired to use video.  My concept features two screens and a performance with my brush as I move in a tai chi-like way, moving ink across the paper.  I visualize the performance being filmed and shown as a raw performance on one screen, with another screen showing the same movements enhanced artistically by the videographer using his personal artistic vision set beside it.

A fellow dancer and I have begun to work together and we had our marks filmed last week. It was a momentous occurrence.  It moved me and changed me, the experience leaving its mark on me as I leave my mark on the world.