Thunder and Lightening


Creating art can be similar to meditation. Both practices contain

feelings of confinement and freedom and a sense of exposure.

Stemming from this nakedness, commitments to art and to zazen

(sitting) have another deep affinity: here all emotions and all

manifestations of oneself are welcome. On zafu (cushion) as on

paper, one tries not to turn away from ugliness, beauty, confusion,

or fear. Maybe this is why Gertrude Stein famously said “Art isn’t

everything, it’s just about everything,” and why Teah Strozer, the

head teacher at Brooklyn Zen Center, called the zendo (meditation

hall) a place to “be everything.” Maybe this is why so many members

of the Brooklyn Zen Center are artists of some kind.

“Thunder and Lightening” is an auspicious show because it marks

the opening of a new space for Boundless Mind Temple. 505 Carroll

Street is Brooklyn Zen Center’s third location and its first non-
domestic space. Its larger scale and unique design suggest that this

is a place for a growing community to branch out. One branch of

this new space is a wall that is perfect for contemplating artworks.

“Thunder and Lightening” highlights the sangha (community) who

built this new practice space in Brooklyn. Not surprisingly, the seven

works hang harmoniously together on the wall. As a catalyst for this

show, artists were first asked “What is the thunder and lightning of

your mediation practice?” So these seven pieces are not easy works.

Each work contains (differently) a measure of pain—a scary place

characterized by the dark BOOM of thunder and acute/lethal energy

of lightning. Ready to accept any weather condition, these seven

artists did not shy away when the rolling clouds descended. But then

something happened. In an email typo worthy of Marcel Duchamp

himself, “lightning” was misspelled as “lightening” which means

the lifting of a heavy burden or perhaps a sky filling with light at the

end of a storm. Look for this too in the seven works, and also in the

mediation practice that goes on in the same space.

-Noah Fischer

Artists in Thunder and Lightening (on the wall from left to right):

Alisa Malinovich, Claudia Vieira, Yoko Ohashi, Elisa Soliven, Grady

Gerbracht, Maria Wallace, Noah Fischer.

Alisa Malinovich (I fully disavow) All My Ancient Twisted

Karma acrylic on canvas, 2010

The image was inspired by Noah’s suggestion of Thunder and

Lightening – “What is the thunder and lightening of your sitting

practice?” he asked. After a while, it came to me. All my ancient

twisted karma, twirling about in a spiral! May it be looked at, and

laughed at, and gently, fully, disavowed.

Claudia Viera Untitled #27 [Architectural Topographies]

charcoal on paper, 2003

Since 2001 I have been using a single continuous line as a metaphor

for the living experience. From small works on paper to monumental

site-specific spatial meditations, they are ultimately an imprint of

time passing. This particular conception of drawing, instead of being

a sketch of an idea or a representation of an object, is, in the very

moment of its generation, a record of lived time. The work spreads an

extension of the body and the mind. The intention is to stimulate the

viewer to look around and recognize their immediate surroundings

to experience a fluid process of self-awareness. A kind of a wrap/

skin that expands its physical dimensions providing an image of time,

presence, existence and reality.

Yoko Ohashi Untitled

ballpoint pen, 2007

The drawing was originated from doodling with a pen. At first there

was the cozy intimacy of drawing small, just like sitting and breathing

comfortably. But then all of a sudden, bursts of energy overtook the

hand in big spiraling motions.. Excitement and fear came to me since

it was a place unknown. I remember going back to the breath, which

kept the experience very joyful.

Elisa Soliven Untitled

oil on wood, 2010.

Grady Gerbracht Untitled from the Bovine Collaborations series,

digital C print mounted on Sintra

Bovine Collaborations engages steers as collaborative partners

in the creation of images. The co-authored works are separated

into three categories, Feces, Urine and Mud, which highlight

aesthetic aspects of the three “media byproducts” left behind when

the steers are gathered, weighed and transported to slaughter. I

have captured strangely beautiful images of incidental marks my

unwitting collaborators have drawn with their horns in the fecal

matter their bodies spread onto the walls of the transport trucks. I

select and recontextualize portions of these bovine productions that

have the potential to be formally or conceptually tied to traditions

of art produced by various avant-garde movements in modern and

contemporary art history.

Maria S. Wallace Custom

oil on canvas, 2010

This is a picture of plasma lightning, which is associated with volcanic

activity. Studying such lightning is leading scientists to investigate

the theory that core eruptions are triggered by electricity rather than

pressure. I am in a bad state for making art because I don’t know

what I am doing. Everything turns out clumsier than I think and I don’t

see it doing much for me. That is why I make only practice art and no

actual art. In this picture, the volcano is being with people and trees.

Noah Fischer Untitled Laptop #7

ink on dura-lar with painted wood frame, 20″ X 25, 2009

At one point I was startled to realize that more than half of my awake

time was spent sitting in front of a purring little silver machine. I

wanted to explore the “interface” between my laptop and myself

through drawing in the hopes of at least bringing greater mindfulness

to this condition. In this series of drawings, I laid a sheet of clear

film over the apparatus, and began to trace each key, each physical

element, and each open window on the LCD screen with ink and a

small brush. So now the hours were spent attending to the machine

itself. Each drawing in this series took its own direction from this

starting point.