I continue to seek quiet and peace throughout my busy day, and look forward to those moments late at night, when the rest of the house is asleep. Ironically, it is in these quiet hours that my mind triggers into action and I find myself absorbed in thinking, planning, writing, or just some feverish, soul-searching activity. My active mind somehow generates a sense of calm within me, and I am happy doing what I am. I feel content and attain some sense of accomplishment.
Here is the Meditating Buddha, from Gandhara, second century. I have always been fascinated by this, ever since I learned about Buddha in grade school. To me, the Buddha is the embodiment of peace. Seated in a cross-legged yogic stance in this piece, he assumes the classical pose, depicting dignity, reverence, and humility. His hands overlap palms upward, in the gesture of meditation and tranquility. His quest for knowledge lead him to Nirvana, or enlightenment.
I believe in Buddha’s Eightfold Path to nirvana, which includes: right knowledge, right aspiration, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.
I see my children as my reward for nurturing them with love and joy. Michelangelo’s Pietá from the Renaissance art in sixteenth century Europe, now housed at St. Peter’s, Vatican, Rome, epitomizes for me, the deep-rooted and selfless love a mother has for her children. One look at the magnificently sculptured young son enveloped securely in his mother’s lap in the folds of her flowing garment, is enough to stir the deepest feeling of motherhood.
Just as Michelangelo set free the Pietá from the block of marble—the rock he fondly cradled and carved—so too, I have set free my two young children into the world, quite confident that they will carve a better life for themselves, and respect the hand that rocked their cradle.
Several years ago, when I was in Singapore, I came across Kitagawa Utamaro’s Woman at the Height of Her Beauty. Here “the elaboration of surface detail combined with an effort to capture the essence of form”, making the images “simplified and elegant.” (Marilyn Stokstad)
I have dabbled with different forms of art ranging from pencil sketching to working with stained glass. But what I have enjoyed immensely is working with Batik, a form of fabric art using wax resists and dyes. Long before I literally got my hands wet dying fabric and using wax resists, I had browsed through several books reading about the process. When I finally had the opportunity to take a class, I created patterns and designs influenced by traditional Indian motifs. Later, I had an opportunity to visit Singapore, where I saw beautiful Indonesian fabrics with intricate Batik designs. I even got to watch local craftsmen maneuvering traditional tjanting tools carrying hot wax, creating fascinating and detailed handiwork. A few years later, I found myself in Medicine Hat, a small town in Alberta, Canada. Here, I had another opportunity to work on Batik at an art studio. Instead of using some of the traditional designs for Batik, I found myself veering towards the exotic woodblock prints of the Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro. I found these prints very conducive to rendering in Batik. I think this is because both Batik and Utamaro’s prints successfully use abstraction of lines and simplified shapes to give form to the images.