Nagini is based on a traditional Tibetan image of the "VIrgin Daughter of the Nagas" (Naga-kanya). The Nagas are the beautiful race of serpent-people, mythic demi-gods who live under the earth in extraordinary wealth and comfort. Nagini is 36" (91 cm) tall. Click on Nagini's lovely derrière to see how she was made.
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.
The ancient Vedas tell the story of Garuda, the eagle-god, son of the seer Kasiapa. When Garuda was born, he gave off such an immense light that the gods were fearful. Agni, god of fire and the forge, and the god who puts the world to fire at the end times between the ages, reassured them: “It is only Garuda, whose light is equal to my own.” Garuda soon dimmed his light. He helped Indra trick the Nagas into giving up to the gods the amrita, the elixir of immortality found in the sea. Garuda, with his powerful wings, served as Indra's mount. His food was elephants and snakes. Like Nagini and Saraswati, Garuda is made of laminated cardboard and papier-mâché. He has seven gems, for each of the chakras: ruby for Maladhara/Root; spessartite for Swadhisthana/Sacrum; citrine for Manipura/Solar Plexus; a necklace of chrysoprase for Anahata/Heart; lapis lazuli for Vishuddha/Throat; amethyst for Ajna/Third Eye; and moonstone for Sahasrara/Crown. He stands 15.5" (39 cm) high.
Saraswati is the Hindu goddess of art, learning, poetic rhythm and sacred song. Her four arms hold her attributes: a vina or lute, the Vedas and a mala. She sits on a base ringed with eight lotus-petals. I have given the head of her lute the shape of her symbolic animal, the peacock. After a lifetime of painting and drawing, Saraswati is my first figural sculpture, made of paper mache. Like all of my sculptures, she contains hidden mantras and prayers sealed inside. She carries the constellation Ursa Major on her chest (Polaris, the Pole Star, is on her right shoulder) and the constellation Virgo on her back, made of CZ brilliants. Her metallic surface is several coats of mica pigment in acrylic medium. Hidden under her base is a 180 carat lab-grown cut yellow sapphire. She is 7" (18 cm) high.
Now for something entirely different:
Traditionally, katsinas are dolls representing nature spirits and qualities that are given to girls in ceremonies in the Hopi and Zuni Pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico, respectively, and portrayed by dancers in seasonal rituals. Of course they are both much more serious and more playful than outsiders are given to know. Mine are affectionate gestures, made of cardboard (chiefly, empty toilet paper rolls), colored tissue paper and glue, with added bits of Indian or Japanese silk and beads. They honor birds and spirits around where I live in the desert, whom I see daily–or like Thunderbird, whom though I do not see, I sense.
Gambel's Quail are ubiquitous in the Sonoran Desert. They have a very distinct vocabulary of calls; for 'food here,' for 'c'mon over this way,' or for 'HEADS UP - DANGER!' A male always serves as lookout, from the most elevated position he can attain near the females and young, typically on a rock, a wall, or lower tree branches. They fly short distances and, comically, prefer to walk or run. The topknot quivers when they are feeding (we feed the birds dried corn daily).
Thunderbird came to my aid on a dirt road a few miles off the small main highway from Santa Fe to Mora, NM. With Thunderbird's help, I navigated potholes with a low-slung rented car. No parts were lost. Thunderbird remains my road-warrior/protector.
A young roadrunner took up residence on our property and we see him/her daily. A little goofy at first, like all young birds are, Roadrunner has settled into a healthy routine of predation. We have learned that roadrunners, like owls and raptors, are carnivorous. Our resident roadrunner eats small birds and large lizards.
Beloved Colibri, here all year. Busy, vigorously protective of territory, far-sighted, loquacious. We get buzzed when the feeder gets low.