It is known that certain Buddhist monks chose to self-mummify as a meditative path to enlightenment. Tradition has it that these monks subsisted for years on only water, seeds and nuts until being enclosed inside a Buddha statue, surviving for another thousand days breathing through a small tube and imbibing bark and finally a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree. In recent years a Chinese Buddha statue was X-rayed in the Netherlands, disclosing the mummified remains of the monk Liuquan.
This work, which interacts in varying ways with ambient light, was expressly made for Sheila Pinkel, my lifelong friend, an artist whose medium is light and whose curiosity has a spiritual intensity. The constellations of Ursa Major (Great Bear) above the ‘grotto’ in which Liuquan’s X-rayed mummy sits (lower third of the work) and of Virgo and Pisces on the left and right sides, respectively, are placed there in tribute to Sheila’s questing spirit. In the topmost third of the structure sits a Wish Fulfilling Gem. In the center, the Buddha.
Oil paintings on glass embedded in cardboard and papier mache mixed with turmeric, sandalwood and marble dust; quartz crystal points, crushed pyrite, cubic zirconia, 17.75” (44 cm) high, 4” (10 cm) deep.