The centuries-old form of the Tibetan Buddhist thangka gives shape to this series, a contemplation of beauty, decay and spirit.
With their graceful cloth covers draped at the top, thangkas convey reverence, majesty, and mystery. It’s easy to understand why they have been used all these years for monastic student instruction and personal meditation focus.
In traditional thangkas the central image is a Buddhist deity, a scene or mandala created with paint, embroidery or appliqué. For this series custom-printed fabrics made from original peony photographs and pentagon designs take center stage.
Peonies convey time and timelessness with their beautiful transition from a tightly-packed bud to lavish display and finally a seedpod. Pentagons, sheer fabrics, and contrasting threads are my symbols for this and other transformations, whether botanical, chemical or spiritual, as well as our attempts to reveal the inner workings of these mysteries. To make cloth pentagons I use a traditional patchwork method, English paper piecing in which fabric is wrapped over paper shapes and held in place with hand stitches.
Some traditional thangkas include a rectangle of contrasting cloth below the central image. This “door” is where one enters the world of the deity. The window screen on my doors is a reminder of the difference between looking outside and being outside.
To learn about the inspiration for and creation of this series, watch this video.