Compound eye/"I", Part Two : Spheres of influence

Compound eye/"I" was inspired by my experiences with Buddhist cultures and their message of interconnectedness, fluidity (actually, nonexistence) of identity, the absorption of small self into the greater "I" (i.e. awareness), its request for us to look clearly, to polish the lens and tread lightly…messages that speak to, and move me, on many levels. Artistically, I wanted to express all of this with Compound eye/I and a sister sculpture (as-yet unrealized: an elongated, androgynous contemplative figure), both surfaced with convex mirrors outside, plain mirror inside.
The compound eyes of insects, with multifaceted lenses forming a cohesive vision, and the Mandelbrot fractal, with nodes of connection into infinity, are metaphors for the same interconnectedness and all similar in form. Inside Compound eye/I, was an encircling net with faceted crystals, a literal (perhaps too...) expression of Indra's Net of Jewels, the great web of consciousness in which we are reflections of the other…no separation.
Voila, Compound eye/"I".

Part One : "Compound eye/"I". Or, how the embers from a first Burn sparked the creatives fires in the direction of large-scale art.

photo by Trey Ratcliff.jpg

"Compound eye/'I'" was the first sculpture I envisioned in my mind's eye, along with a sister sculpture, as yet unrealized) in early 2006. I had been to Burning Man for the first time in 2005 and was utterly blown away by everything about it (except dub step), but the art especially and that all the artists had worked so hard, and out of own pocket, to manifest their expressions on such a large-scale.  I thought of that experience often, with reverence. It had taken root, catalyzing creative embers sparked during that first visit: … during a 2006 visit to Mysore, India, where I studied yoga each year, I woke up from a vivid dream in which I had just built a sculpture/installation at Burning Man. The sense of having done it was very real, and exciting, though the piece itself was hideous. Inspired by the feeling of having created something at Burning Man, but decidedly unimpressed by the piece I'd made in the dream, I asked myself "Well, what would I create then? What do I want to see there? "…and I envisioned two sculptures: one of them a 30'/ 9 m tall human figure sitting in meditation, androgynous and very elongated in form, gazing out over the horizon, all surfaces covered in convex mirrors, with a mirrored "sitting" space inside. The other sculpture was a fusion of eyeballs (which I'd been collecting and drawing in different forms since my teens), represented by convex mirrors and silvered spheres, overlaid onto a fractal shape, the Mandelbrot form. I loved the big, dark, industrial art I saw in the desert, but craved reflective surfaces and rounded forms. My eye wanted to also see light, elegance, subtlety, detail on that scale.  I was deeply excited about these pieces and wished that I had the skills and lifestyle to be create them myself. Alas, I had neither, but I hoped that someone would create them one day….the rest is history.
*Side note: a big feature of the ugly sculpture in the dream was an array of international flags tacked all over a wooden structure. In 2010, the year I finally did my first sculpture, the 'pavilion' around the Man was covered in exactly that display of flags. My sculpture was close to the Man, so I frequently took in the weirdness of that vista and suspected the Universe was playing jokes...

Ideas, inspirations, representations, expressions

This is long overdue: sharing about the art I make. Inspirations, ideas, process. Until recently, I haven't posted more than updates as that somehow felt self-important. It wasn't why I was doing art and it was always enough for me to know where it came from, what it means to me and to let people have their own experience of it. However, people frequently ask how my creative ideas/ inspirations/ visions arise; many have suggested writing about it. 
Then, I was recently questioned whether I’d copied another Burner's piece. I was taken aback, and quite surprised by the comparison, as the pieces don’t look alike to me ( ironically, while I like some of this artist’s work, the piece in question is not one that speaks to me, and from the only year I didn’t go to Burning Man). I found the suggestion offensive but, on the other hand, it was a useful exchange, as it made me reconsider whether there was value in sharing more about this work which, while personal in inspiration, is something I ultimately express in the public sphere… to be shared with 70,000 others no less.
Living in Asia for 20 years, surrounded by insects and sacred architecture, I know well where my inspirations lie, but from this exchange, I realized that a US city person wouldn’t necessarily perceive contextual influences that are so self-evident to me. While people will see art through their own filters, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to offer commentary, to give a little structure to the experience….
As I really enjoy coming to a piece of art, first having my own experience of it, then reading what the artist wanted to express, then going back and seeing it through the artist’s filter, I decided that sharing more than updates about the art might actually be interesting, and not necessarily a sign of utter self-absorption. So, in between travel and working on a new project, I’ll going to do a post series of paragraphs and images about my art involvements: art that inspired me, especially in Asia; Nature in “my” art; the nudges and sparks that fertilized the growing interest in making Playa art in the first place. No great statements will be made, but as I like hearing about other people’s creative journeys, perhaps this will be of interest to some of my friends, fellow artists."