I have been interested and posting in a Facebook group, Minimalist Photography lately. The most recent challenge was food for some creative work today. The challenge was to photograph one sheet of plain paper, keeping it simple. How to do that and keep the subject of paper without gimmicks or artifice, in the Miksang way was my own added twist. Here are some of the results. Let me know what you think of them.
Monday, September 28, 2015
Friday, January 2, 2015
Or maybe it is because of the many more images I see regularly by my digital photography students or on contemplative photography forums that this has arisen. As a final exam exercise, I randomly selected images from my files and had my students rank, edit and make a slideshow of them. I included a wide variety of both "good" and "bad" images for them to consider. I found their selections to be quite enlightening. In some cases, students rejected what I considered my "best" and chose to rank highly images that I found pedantic, even boring. Taste truly is subjective, but perhaps there are some key factors to consider, particularly in a time period when we are overly exposed to digital photos.
This top image stopped me in my tracks after a compelling day of mahamudra meditation (a practice of looking at the mind and sense perceptions with inquisitiveness about the direct experience.) It is called "Emptiness/Luminosity", which are terms used to describe the fleeting yet vivid experience of the mind in the moment. This image is compelling to me because it relates directly to my state of mind and remains as a postcard of that experience. But does it translate to others? This is always the open question for the artist.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
|Frat Brother - 1994 by Rebekah Younger|
acrylic and mirror on plywood
"Frat Brother" provided me with a teaching moment today, when a neighboring artist came by and asked me to remove the figures from the hall because they were creating "negative energy." With further conversation the woman said she didn't want her guests to feel intimidated and that the figure made her feel like she would be attacked. She claimed that she didn't notice that it was a black male figure, but how could she not? I explained the meaning behind the work and that it was my intention to show them in this location through the weekend. She was clearly unsettled, not even aware of her programmed prejudice, a clear example of not so subtle racism. Time to confront the bias, the ignorance and the pain and suffering it causes. The figures stayed in the hall for the rest of the weekend. I only wish that more people had the opportunity to encounter them and in turn themselves.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
This piece is part of a group of works being shown in Brunswick next weekend at Greenhut Studios at the Fort Andross Mill for Friday Art Walk, July 12, 5-8 pm. You can see more of my explorations into the nature of the human experience, both individual and social that have been created over the last 25 years at the show, along with bronze sculpture by Marji Greenhut and poured glass by Angela Antolewicz & Ryan Helean.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
|Aryaloka Buddhist Center, Newmarket, NH|
The Earth, Water, Fire Exhibit of my contemplative photography is on display at Aryaloka Buddhist Center from Oct. 5 - Nov. 14, 2012. I will be speaking about my work at the center on Nov. 11 at 6 pm. This post is part of a series of musings on the elements as I have expressed them in my art.
|Ripple - 2007|
The element water has always been a fascination of mine, possibly because I am a Scorpio, which astrologically is a fixed water sign. In the Buddhist mandala of elements, I identify with the clarity of the Vajra family, which is connected with water. People often comment about my clarity of expression and I am known to get angry and self-righteous when I get too solid in my opinions. Both are qualities of this family.
|Fall Reflection - 2012|
Yet water offers a wealth of other qualities. It is the most adaptable of elements taking the shape of whatever contains it. It can be as solid as ice or ethereal as mist, capable of great destruction in minutes as a tsunami or slow penetration as drops cutting through stone over eons. Water cleanses and binds together solids, while keeping them flexible. Water as saliva makes taste possible. Our body mass is 80% water, as blood and other bodily fluids. Water energy is what facilitates communication as we speak of the flow of ideas, commerce or emotions.
|Snow,Drop,Mist - 2011|
The exhibit at Aryaloka shows just a small sample of the hundreds of images I have taken of water over the years. You can see more at: www.rebekahyounger.com
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
|Yellow Triangle - c. 2006|
So it is not surprising that so many contemplatives have spent time observing and reflecting on the qualities of earth, water, fire, wind and space. Indeed cultures as diverse as Chinese, Celtic, Native American and more have some system of understanding life based on these elements.
In a world where we are less in touch with our place in nature and move at a fast pace with no time to ponder these things, it is possible to lose touch with this wisdom.
I have been studying the Tibetan Buddhist system of the Five Elements. In that system, the elements are a mandala working on three levels of existence, the coarse or physical level; the subtle or emotional/mental/non-physical level; and the secret or awakened wisdom level.
Earth is the most solid of these forces. Indeed it is what provides ground, solidity and structure to everything. We speak of "feeling grounded", of someone as being "down to earth" or having an earthy nature when they manifest some solidity and a sense of genuine presence.
|Life & Death - c. 2012|
In our bodies, the earth quality is our bones and muscles, socially it is organizational structures. Without these structures we could not be functional either personally or as a society. Indeed it is the structures that define the functionality of the form. Unchanneled wind/action or water/emotion or fire/passion can be ineffective, or worse, destructive without the support and structure of earth. Resting on earth and trusting its stability allows us to build and create what is needed from the bounty it provides. When earth is out of balance, greed or rigidity can manifest.
Ultimately the awakened quality of earth is a sense of equanimity, that everything can be borne, as the earth supports everything on its surface without discrimination.
|A Delicate Balance - c. 2012|
These qualities are what emerge in the images I have prepared for the upcoming exhibit, Earth, Water, Fire at Aryaloka Buddhist Center, Oct. 5-Nov. 14.
How do you see the element of earth manifesting in the world around you? I'd love to read your comments.
My next post will be on the element of Water.
Monday, September 17, 2012
Exhibit at Aryaloka Buddhist Center
October 5 - November 14, 2012
I will be exhibiting a series of photographic prints on paper and canvas, centered around the theme of earth, water and fire. Most of these were taken as part of my graduate work in 2006-2007. My masters portfolio centered on contemplative arts practices, and more specifically photography as a tool for contemplative looking.
|Earth, Fire, Water - photo montage|
My art is grounded in a practice of looking, an active engagement with the phenomenal world; to look at a leaf, light on a lake or litter on a city street… to look at life; all this is part of my contemplative art practice. To look, really look, I don’t mean just glance, for “to really see takes time,” as Georgia O’Keeffe once said, “like to have a friend takes time.” It requires slowing down, opening up a non-judgmental space where genuine contact can be made. It is as Robert Irwin’s biography title states, “Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees.” It is seeing with all the senses, a process of synchronizing mind and body.
|Clouds on Water - c. 2006|
These images are part of a larger inquiry into the nature of the Five Great Elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Wind and Space), as part of my study of Vajrayana Buddhist philosophy. The entire manifested universe is composed of these elements. They form a mandala of energetic qualities that manifest on the coarse, subtle and secret levels in all aspects of life; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Understanding their nature we can more skillfully work with the world as it is.
I will follow this post with more on the elements in the coming days.
For more information on Robert Irwin, I highly recommend his biography.