Flower Mandalas

Flower Mandalas

T.K. Pippin: The Work of Art

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The Work of Art
by T.K. Pippin

To look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage.
-Henri Matisse

As a studio artist, poet and songwriter, I receive inspiration not only from the world around me, but also from within. I think these are both important because throughout life we are searching, purposefully, for connection. If we cannot see the world through the eyes of a serial killer then how can we understand the serial killer. It is not that we must become him, instead we must find his heart and mind and put ourselves in his place, to try to see what influenced him, what obstacles he endured and what his inner self compels him to do based on these.
The first step in my process is to lose myself, become free, forget myself, in order to understand something that I think I am not, but in the end, eventually find in myself. To open myself to what might flow through me.
The second step would be to put this into action, in any chosen medium, through pen and ink, paint and paper, or camera and film, or even a musical instrument, expressing what was conjured within. In my art I love using almost all mediums. I, myself, receive images of orbs, globes and dreamlike visions when I paint expressively. But, I also love drawing realistic charcoals and taking simple photographs of flowers.
The third process would be to edit, to perfect, because being human is to error, and though tedious, it is what makes us more than human, spirit, refined in the fire, to make ready and understandable or challenging for it’s audience.
The final step is delivery, which I might venture to say is the most difficult for me, because it exposes me and my thoughts, feelings, emotions, soul and even body to the audience. Whether it’s flower mandalas, music, drawings, paintings, poetry, or photography, it’s a part of us and we are most protective of ourselves. This fear of nakedness and rejection – but what we fear the most seems, in the end, to release us into greater freedom.
I find it funny how people around me see art and aesthetics to be almost like a missionary cause, like it should be free, as if, just because one is talented at art, she/he should give it away (maybe so in a utopian society where everything else is free). Like we don’t work for the result that they see, or have to eat or pay bills, that it is all fun and games and in turn should be handed out that way.
It is so much more, and this is where we get the starving artist and those who try to mimic this. The talent of art, in any form, is a gift, just like public relations or teaching or nursing. We WORK, we sweat, we use our time to give something with so much meaning to those who cannot express it themselves and yet we are seen as flighty, far-out, and unimportant.
Recent studies have shown otherwise. With sick and dying children in hospitals, those who are given rooms painted with big beautiful flowers, plants, and other visuals had substantially increased chances of recovery and survival compared to those who are placed in plain white-walled rooms. This speaks volumes of the importance of art in our communities and culture.
© 2008 T.K. Pippin
Discussion:
T.K. Pippin: The Work of Art
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group
Cultivating Creativity group
Request a flower mandala screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas

How Movies Saved My Life

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Red Daylily
My first movie was The Wizard of Oz. I was three years old, we came late to the theater, and we sat in the front row, all the way to the left. I had never seen moving pictures. I had never seen anything that large. The witch’s cackle and the flying monkeys terrified me in a way I had never been scared before. This is my first memory, and what I most remember is that I loved every minute of it.
When I’m feeling down, I go to the movies. I always watch the previews. They give me hope. This summer several exciting-looking blockbusters will open. I’ve seen the previews. I know that at least half of them will disappoint me, but I don’t care. “Something to live for,” I say, to whomever I’m watching the previews with.
Movies, and to an almost equal extent certain TV series, have been pivotal to me in a dozen different ways. Star Trek and Twilight Zone opened my eyes to fundamental truths of human behavior and the workings of the human heart, filtered through aliens and time travel so they could get past the censors. Ground Hog Day sustained me for the first few months following my near-death experience, a time in which I had to learn everything over again and again. As noted in an earlier blog post, The Matrix broke me out of a mental deadlock and spun me into a strange new world of legal labyrinths, from which I brought back a keen sense of the difference between vengeance and justice. But one movie literally saved my life — not once, but twice.
For several years post-college, I was living in Brooklyn, NY, and had a girlfriend in neighboring Queens. I was riding a motorcycle at the time, and part of my commute between home and girlfriend involved the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the BQE. I was reasonably adept at dodging the lightning-quick NYC traffic and at monitoring the cars and trucks on all sides, but no amount of defensive driving could have prepared me for the imminent convergence, by a tractor-trailer on my right and an old Caddy on my left, into the space that I and my little Yamaha were occupying.
Seconds before the Caddy reached my space, I recalled a scene from the Mel Gibson film Road Warrior. In this film, post-apocalyptic Gibson is “Mad Max,” a cop whose wife and kids were ruthlessly murdered in the earlier film by the same name. In this film, if memory serves, Max is being pursued by two guys on motorcycles, each armed with a crossbow. In the instant before he’s certain to become a human pincushion, Max throws his souped-up police cruiser into overdrive and the twin cyclists shoot through the space he occupied and into each other.
My bike was an underpowered 200cc two-stroke, so overdrive was not an option. I did the next best thing and hit the brakes, hard enough to fishtail but not so hard I’d lose full control of the bike, and I watched as, like two enormous ballerinas, the car and truck eased into alignment and sped away.
Twenty years later, that same scene saved me again when a drunk driver was racing toward me, heading southbound in the northbound lane of Route 128 near Boston while I, in my underpowered Plymouth Neon, headed toward him at 70mph. It was about midnight and I was trying to pass a Chevy on my right. As I rounded a curve, I noticed that the headlights coming toward me were off, somehow, and realized, with only a few seconds to spare, that collision was imminent. My choices were to attempt to complete my pass and move into the right lane, to tap the brakes and try to fall behind the car to my right or, remembering Road Warrior once again, to hit the brakes hard and fishtail behind him. I chose the latter. Seconds later, the oncoming car passed through the lane I’d been occupying, followed within 30 seconds by a police car heading south in the southbound lane. I read in the local paper that the driver, a drunk 28-year-old, had been apprehended two exits further down the highway. Earlier that year, two teenagers had been killed by a drunk driver at approximately the same spot. I had passed their twin roadside crosses moments before my own near-fatal encounter. Born after Road Warrior had been released, perhaps they had never seen it.
I have often thought and sometimes written about the healing and transformative power of art, but most of my focus has been on artmaking. Now I wonder about the power of receiving art from others and take some comfort in the belief that what I produce, too, may in some way be life-saving, somewhere out in the world, somewhere in time.

More anon,

- David
Discussion:
How Movies Saved My Life
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group
Cultivating Creativity group
Request a flower mandala screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas
© 2008, David J. Bookbinder

Flower Mandala: Balance

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Chinese Tree Peony Seed Pod
There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year’s course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.
- Carl Jung
Discussion:
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group
Cultivating Creativity group
Request a flower mandala screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas
Image © 2008, David J. Bookbinder

Flower Mandala: Celebration

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Sunflower ‘Moulin Rouge’
You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.
And there are things to be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and they will suffer greatly
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open and our heads above the water.
See who is in there with you and celebrate.
At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally.
Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over.
Gather yourselves!
Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for.
–The Elders, Hopi Nation, Oraibi, Arizona
Discussion:
Art, Healing, and Transformation group
Flower Mandalas Project group
Cultivating Creativity group
Request a flower mandala screensaver: Fifteen Flower Mandalas
Image © 2008, David J. Bookbinder

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