Recently I was invited to exhibit in 'Minds Wide Open' a celebration of Virginia women in the arts. The stipulation for the work, subtitled 'A Shoe of Her Own' is an odd one for me but I found it to be compelling to consider the ways in which we 'stand in our power', 'walk our path', 'stay grounded', etc.
Having an old pair of gardening clogs sitting on the floor of my studio brought an initial idea...first step: covering them with brown kraft paper then a few coats of gesso.
Then I took a clayboard, turned it around so that it became a shadow box. Laying the shoes within suggested a shrine.
Being a student of Tibetan Buddhism I have a collection of articles used in meditation practice.
I've used some of those articles and objects in this piece, including papering the back of the box with pages from a small booklet that my grandmother kept titled 'Essence of Buddhism', and draping the box with a Mala of ox bone beads that I've meditated with for over 15 years. The Mala has special meaning as it traveled with me to Nepal and Tibet where I also was immersed in the beauty of Tara.
In 2001 I was going through a challenging time while working with a group of 'at risk' youth. I asked Garchen Rinpoche for advice and he suggested that I "walk as Tara", goddess of protection and compassion.
During my meeting with Garchen I took the Green Tara and shortly thereafter the White Tara Empowerment's. The images inside the 'shoe shrines' are photocopies of the Green and White Tara's used in the meditation practice and given to me at those ceremonies....here inserted into the 'meditation cave' formed by the shoe. Between the shoes is the Prayer of Tara given to me by Garchen.
There are dogwood tree branches inserted through the box and threaded into the top of each shoe suggesting rooted peace. The branches are hung with 108 'Tara's tears' of compassion for the suffering of all sentient beings.
Lastly I wove 'Wind Horses' / Prayer Flags from Tibet into the branches, sending prayers out on the breeze for all living beings.
As I post the tree cutters are working feverishly next door and the sounds of the chain saws permeate the air.
I send out a prayer of peace to us all:
May all mother sentient beings
Boundless as the sky
Have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May they be liberated from suffering
And the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from
The happiness that is free from suffering.
May they rest in equanimity
Free from attachment and aversion.