Some of these images produced in the project will follow the conventional life cycle of a work of art - they will be produced, exhibited, and sold into private collections. But at least half of the images - a series of 54+ slip cast porcelain sculptures - will follow a different path. Read on to learn more...
How the Project was Conceived
In the late winter of 2010, I was recovering from a lengthy episode of Major Depressive Disorder. Anyone who has recovered from depression knows the tentative, thin-skinned, hopeful feeling of the first few months of recovery: the senses are restored, our passions re-engage with the world, and we can be exquisitely sensitive to the simplest pleasures of life.
I am blessed to live near a beautiful old growth forest with a small salmon bearing stream. In that late February, the forest was awakening, as I was, from a long dark winter. One of my great pleasures was (and still is) to walk in that forest, smelling the air, hearing the running stream, watching new leaves unfurl. My newly restored senses drank in the sacred atmosphere of the woods.
Instrumental to my recovery, along with restorative time in nature, was the practice of mindfulness meditation, and study of Buddhist teachings. My forest walks were both contemplative and sensual, and brought an experiential dimension to the ideas of buddha nature (everything is of the same sacred essence) and dependent origination (everything is inextricably linked.)
Being an artist, I naturally began to imagine how to communicate these realizations through my art. I imagined making a series of ceramic buddhas, and somehow placing them out in the world for people to stumble upon - in the forest, where they would look at home under trees, but also in unexpected places where they might seem dissonant, like city streets, parking lots, ordinary and 'ugly' places, where they might serve as a potent reminder that buddha nature is everywhere and everything.
For a couple of years this idea germinated. I was inspired by Ontario based artist Lasha Mutual's 108 White Taras series, and also by California artist Christine Mason Miller's 100 Books Project.
In the fall of 2011, my dear father-in-law passed away; we were blessed to spend two months with him, both at home and in hospice, as intimate companions on and witnesses to his journey of passing. Witnessing this journey was an awakening and a gift, and with deep gratitude to Joe, I dedicated 2012 to living my best life fearlessly - caring lovingly for myself, and not waiting to manifest my ideas and creations.
So depression and death, healing and inspiration, nature, the passage of time, and the desire for connection and service all conspired to bring this project to light.108 Buddhas
The basic concept is simple. I'll create and document 108 Buddha images over the course of one year. I am a tile maker, ceramic artist, jeweler, and mixed media painter, so there will be pieces in all these media, although I'll focus on ceramics. I am also a practicing Buddhist, and this artmaking is part of my personal devotional practice. As an artist and practitioner, I don't know where this project will take me. That is both exciting and daunting! Hence the blog - my discoveries on this journey will be shared with you here as they unfold.Releasing Art into the Wild
Back to my original vision for this project - little Buddhas loose in the world, reminding people of their own beauty and sacred nature. How will that work?
Through the art of slipcasting, and through collaboration with you.
I'll create an original clay sculpture; I'm envisioning a simple seated Buddha. From this sculpture I'll create a mold, and from that mold 54 (that's half of my 108!) more little Buddhas will emanate, each to be glazed and fired a little differently, to have their own unique colours, textures, and personalities.
Here's where you come in. Each of these 54 little Buddhas will be adopted by one of you. It will be your job to take the Buddha and release it into the wild, along with a little booklet to accompany it, explaining the project. What is your idea of a place where a reminder of our buddhanature would be welcome?
I'm sure you can add dozens of places to this list. This is why I'm counting on you to bring this project to life. This aspect of the project will be rolling out slowly over the next three months, as I create the little sculptures. More details, FAQ's, and info on how to adopt a Buddha will be coming soon! If you want to stay informed about the project, click "Follow by Email" in the left sidebar.
- under a tree in the forest
- in the public space of a hospice, hospital, or shelter
- on a troubled city street
- in the home of someone who needs hope or healing
- in a meditation centre
- in a police station, jail, or courthouse
- at a hospital emergency room
- in a daycare centre
May you be free from suffering and the root of suffering. May you experience happiness and the root of happiness.
~ Bronwyn Simons, May 6, 2012, Denman Island, British Columbia.