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.
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