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.
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.
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.
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.