Archive for February, 2008

Green TaraWe finished Green Tara today!

Isadora Leidenfrost is here shooting the last footage for the documentary film “Creating Buddhas”. Tomorrow we’ll visit Drupon Samten at Drikung Kyobpa Choling for consecration.

Lunar Eclipse

There was a lunar eclipse this evening, and we’ve decided to take that as an auspicious sign.

How wonderful it is to be able to see and to create beauty!

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New Fibers 2008

Three Mongolians, Leslie Rinchen-Wongmo

My “Three Mongolians” was selected for inclusion in New Fibers 2008, an initiative of the Fiber Arts Network of Michigan, juried by Patricia Malarcher of the Surface Design Association. The show will run from May 6 through July 24 at two locations in Michigan — the University Art Gallery at Eastern Michigan University and the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center in Escanaba.

This work was my first total departure from traditional imagery. I applied the techniques of Tibetan appliqué to the portrayal of real human faces, capturing a moment of human interaction. The image is based on a photograph taken by a friend, Ernesto Noriega, in Mongolia several years ago, while I was still doing my apprenticeship with T.G. Dorjee Wangdu in Dharamsala. Ernesto and I both volunteered for the Planning Council in the early 1990. I’ve lost track of him over the years but, last I knew, he was living in Germany with his wife and two children. When I saw the photo in Ernesto’s slide show, I immediately imagined the colorful costumes of these wonderful characters translated into appliqué. The people in the photo were wearing traditional clothing made of the same silk satin (or so it appeared to me) that I used to make deities and idealized landscapes. The expressions on their faces drew me in and stayed with me for years. I carried around the print Ernesto had given me, as I moved from house to house, from India to Italy. More than ten years must have passed from that first slide show to the completion of this work in 2006. And I feel my initial intuition was validated in the result. I still enjoy sitting with these people, pondering their expressions and reveling in their colors.

I’m very pleased that this piece passed the critical eye of Pat Malarcher whose fine journal has inspired me over many years. One of the first issues of Surface Design I saw featured the work of an artist who created richly ornate assemblages with figures reminiscent (for me) of wrathful tantric deities, but drawn from his own imagination. I’ll post the artist’s name when I get back to Milan and find that old copy of the Surface Design Journal. His work is magical and I look back to it often wishing I were creative enough to conjure divine creatures from my imagination.

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I served jury duty on Super Tuesday. I’d already voted by mail but knew my vote was being counted that day as I sat waiting at the courthouse. I had a strong sense of civic belonging, a clear feeling of being part of a society. This is something I realize I’ve missed living so many years as an expat.

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I don’t remember where I found this poem. It was years ago. If anyone knows anything about it or its author, please send me a message. It reminds me that we can’t live on this planet without affecting other creatures.

silk fabric

Silk Worm Poem
Even before the little ones make their sacrifices,
Let us praise the heroic gift of these silent worms.
Think back to that golden afternoon,
As they wake from the depths of their nap musing, “Shall we go or not?”
Their lazy motion back and forth echoes in my young ears,
Like the light pattern of a sudden rain,
The sound of these little ones chewing the leaves all together
Is not the sound of gluttony, but the sound of diligence.
They are not eating for the sake of self-interest.
The worms eat, sleep, molt, eat, sleep, molt, eat, sleep.
Then suddenly one morning they spew forth a wondrous substance.
That substance is a spindle-shaped fairy cloak in which they wrap themselves,
Weaving it thicker and thicker.
In several days, they will disappear, never to be seen again,
Because before the last transformation,
They will be placed in hot water, fairy cloak and all.
Their cries and sighs will not reach our ears.
We see them on our fingers, beauty transformed.
The silkworms weave and dye with the same diligence.
They must learn how to sew and embroider,
Spewing forth the silken words of praise.


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