Touching The Earth 2004-
The story of Siddhartha Gautama's enlightenment tells us that when he was quite near to completing this insight he was harassed and threatened by the demon Mara and his soldiers. Mara challenged Siddhartha and claimed that it was he, Mara, whose spiritual achievements were greater and that he should rightfully be the one to receive enlightenment. Mara's soldiers resoundingly agreed saying: "We are his witness." Mara then challenged Siddhartha by asking, "Who will speak for you?" Unmoved Siddhartha calmly touched the ground with his right hand and soon a voice rumbling from the depths of the Earth spoke saying, "I am Siddhartha Gautama's witness." Immediately Mara and his soldiers vanished and as the Morning Star rose above the horizon Siddhartha realised enlightenment and became a Buddha.
I found this story when researching the meaning of the Buddha's hand touching the earth after making my image titled Buddha 2. This connection with the earth in Buddhist mythology is, for me, quite significant. The First Nation belief that the earth is our Mother who gives us life, feeds us, and offers materials that protect us, is, I believe, connected with the Buddha touching his hand to the earth over 2500 years ago.
The meditating Buddha statues represent the inner activity of meditation and contemplation. These objects convey a sense of peace and a connection with an essence or state beyond the self. I imagine that there is a link between meditation, contemplation, and the creative process which involves both.
Artists can also have a feeling, through what they create, that a new creation is beyond their perceived skill or conceptual ability. With this comes a sense that some contact has been made with a place or energy beyond the limits of the self. This sense is something that most artists tend to mention in private.
There is an apparent spiritual connection with the earth and nature in most First Nation spiritual beliefs and this is often revealed in their art. I see a similar connection with Chinese scholar's rocks, or Gongshi, and the Japanese Suiseki rocks. These and Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, are art-forms firmly connected with the earth and nature. There are many examples of this type of connection.
It concerns me that despite our evolved intelligence, technological capability, and cultural wealth, collectively we have become dangerously disconnected from our fundamental relationship with Mother-Earth. This group of images and some of my works in the On My Father's Drawing Board series have come from a desire to acknowledge and, in my own way, to 'touch the earth'.