Eastern Philosophy in my Practice


Eastern philosophy is a foundation underneath the conscious mind that influences my artwork.* I have always been fascinated by time, energy, connection and change; concepts that connect all living beings and widely embraced in the East.* However, my first philosophy lesson was from nature. I grew up on a farm in Iowa, where time was marked by the distinct changing of seasons and life cycle of crops. Playing outside and witnessing the flaura and fuana of the tallgrass prairie was my source of entertainment and inspiration. When I left the farm I began searching for answers by exploring different religions.* I was 19 when I picked up the book, Tao Te Ching, a collection of poems written by an ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu.

Religion ended up not being the answer, as there is no way to be a Taoist - but still the words I read rang "Truth". "The Eternal Tao that can be described is not the Eternal Tao". The Tao refers to "the Way", and the source from which all things are created. The goal of Taoism is simply to live in the Tao - meaning the way of the source - by balancing opposite aspects of yin and yang which are found everywhere in our bodies and in nature. The Tao Te Ching offers no dogma, but simply wakes you up to processes in life that are already happening. For a long time, I found myself confronting death and decay through my art as I watched my grandparents and small-town lifestyle pass away. After a personal awakening, I recognized that out of death arises rebirth and I began to focus less on the past. I began to investigate how time could move in cycles rather than on a finite timeline.

Today I investigate how the body experiences time through sleep/wake cycles or circadian rhythms - natural processes in our body that balance aspects of light and dark, day and night.* I currently live in the city to pursue my work, but struggle to maintain balance internally as my rural roots beckon me to a more quiet lifestyle. (When I go to bed at night, I sometimes still hear the rhythmic buzzing of cicadas and dream of the grass flowing in wind.)* In an urban context, the body must regulate external stimuli from noise and light pollution and maintain homeostasis.* I also hope humanity can embrace balance externally with our ecosystems, which also suffer from urban sprawl.* Through my work I hope to bring awareness of balance in the individual and to their relationship with other beings: from tiny insects to fellow humans. No thing exists which is not dependant on another.*

Notions of time, change and balance in Eastern philosophy

1. Samsara - "the cycle of death and rebirth in the material world" (Buddhism and Hinduism)

2. Karma - "the consequences of ones actions that manifest in a person's life" (Buddhism and Hinduism) or in other words "what comes around goes around"

3. Yin & Yang - strong need to maintain harmony between different aspects, in a collectivist society (Thailand, China, Japan, and many other East Asian countries)