Notes on "Garden of Destruction" (Landscape series)

For 28 years I was married and living in the suburbs of New York City, and in 2012 I walked out of the marriage.  Creation follows destruction, and I saw no way to become the honest and open man I wanted to become without leaving the lifestyle to which I had grown so accustomed.  More nauseating and heart braking than cathartic at the time, I’m much happier now.

The center pyramid of “Garden of Destruction” suggests a white clapboard house becoming the trellis for some tree/ivy-type plant that may be destroying the pyramid while it grows on it.  The figures depict mostly yoga positions, but also work, play and meditation positions.  I’m trying to imply that there’s not much distinction between the activities. 

The shapes around the garden borrow from Buddhist mandala forms: the three-sided phurba daggers topping the pillars supporting each arch, the double vajra on the top of each arch and the shape of the arch flames.  The zig-zag of the walls and the spiral tooth shape of the outer circle kept coming back to me, although I played with several different shapes here.  They felt appropriate, even though they don’t follow mandala iconography.

Selectively borrowing symbols and forms from a spiritual tradition risks subverting the intent of the tradition’s symbols and inspiration.  As a Buddhist practitioner, I believe that the emotions and energy that went into this sculpture are appropriately expressed in the forms I borrowed from Buddhist mandala tradition, even if my final product is far from traditional.