The Cultivation of Enlightenment


The Cultivation of Enlightenment
⊛ cut paper + washi + chiyogami / wood
⊛ 6 x 4 in • 150 x 100 cm
⊛ commission • private collection


You would be forgiven for thinking that a person who suffers from severe pollen-based nasal distress would have a more negative take on the theme of flowers and gardens.  The truth is that I have fond memories of the gardens on the family farm.  Admittedly my fondness comes more from scarfing down the tomatoes than from tilling and fertilizing, but still.

The Cultivation of Enlightenment came into being as a commission for a long-time collector - actually, she always comes up with such inspiring themes that she's more of a collaborator.  She mentioned that she's been spending time in the garden recently, and my art mind took off at a sprint.

Based on the idea of the garden as an organic font of wisdom,  this piece ties nicely into my regular themes of enlightenment from chaos, and the concept that thoughts and wisdom can be contagious and passed around - and not always from person to person.

After a bit of research, I found some funky, weirdly beautiful flowers that I fell in love with called Bladder Campions. Not the prettiest name in the world, to be sure. Apparently they can be found in both Europe and the US (where they are considered weeds), but I really responded to the shape, the oddness, and how interesting they would be to cut.

Our protagonist - the recipient of this (super?)natural sagacity,  is a reflection of the shapes and colors of the flower.

Speaking of colors, I was looking for a paper that seemed to represent the idea of a garden without being a literal representation of one. I think the paper I picked does the job nicely, implying nature and colors, perhaps just out of focus.