Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finding Our Zen

As I sat pondering last week about an interesting blog post to write when I thought, why not introduce an artist I know. While reading an email from my Collage friend, Vijaya, from Mumbi, India, I realized as artists that we have so much cultural and artistic diversity to share. As an educator, I have always believed we can all learn, as well as develop our own knowledge base through relationships with others. Vijaya is a talented woman whom I'm happy to call friend. I have included two of her artworks within her writing. Please enjoy.
I met Kathryn at the yahoo collage group and since then, she has been my guru in many collage related ways. As a collagist I still have a long way to go and the sum total of my knowledge and experience is limited by the number of years I have spent doing this. So in my guest post on her blog today, I thought I would share what collage means to me. I think creating a collage is almost like Zen meditation. It is uplifting and fulfilling at the spiritual level. Let me explain. Zen is the Japanese word for the Mandarin Chán, which in turn is derived from the Sanskrit word dhyāna meaning ‘meditation’. Personally, I find meditation tedious. Have you tried it? I find it difficult to sit down quietly for a length of time, with legs crossed, eyes shut, and concentrate on thinking nothing so we can give the brain a chance to rest and reboot as it were. I am told one needs discipline and training to be successful in meditation. Rather unregretful, I admit to being not concerned that I am not good at meditation, because I have a happier alternative. I love making paper collage. This is the next best thing to Zen meditation. I am convinced of it. I usually collect all the paraphernalia required and either stand at the dining table or sit on the floor. One could compare this to getting ready for meditation. Once I have decided on the broad idea of what I want to do, all I have eyes for is the colours that I am looking for. I find that without any effort on my part I am able to block out all the ambient noise and focus just on the tiny pieces of colour paper that I need at the moment. Sometimes I might spend hours bent over adjusting tiny bits of paper with tweezers and paint brush, unmindful of physical exhaustion. I am in Collage Heaven.
Meditation is said to calm the mind, so does collage making. Collage making is a very soothing and relaxing activity. I find that it quiets my mind, makes it more tranquil. It helps me forget the stresses of daily life. As a consequence, sometimes I also forget to fix dinner. Meditation is the process to know your consciousness – that you are not defined either by your body or your mind. You are just the witness to what is happening around you. Collage making does the same for me. These bits of paper have a mind of their own, and somehow they make themselves into a picture while I just watch out that they are glued well and flat, and stay within the overall theme. Sometimes these bits of paper can even change the theme and one can do nothing about it but go with the flow and bear mute witness. But that is a story for another day. Each torn piece of paper finds the right spot for itself like a jig-saw puzzle. Slowly the hazy idea in my brain gets created on paper. Each piece of paper torn by hand is unique in shape and size; thus, the collage creates itself to which I am merely a witness. So I believe collage is a kind of Zen. What does your Art mean to you? Do write in with your views and let’s compare notes. ******************************************* Thank you Vijaya for your words! I couldn't have said it better. Please drop by Vijaya's Facebook page and her blog and check out her art, say hello and become a friend. Vijaya's sites: Vijaya's Art and Vijaya's Art of Paper Collage


  1. Thank you so much, Vijaya, for making my blog so interesting today. I find that I feel the same way you do. No matter how I try to get into the yoga, all I can think about is... I should be working on artwork. Ha
    I think a "guest" post, now and then, is a good thing, and I appreciate your writing one about something many of us feel. (+:

  2. For many artists, including those of us whose spiritual traditions might be considered more "western" than "eastern," making art is an experience which enables us to find our center and dance within it. - Jonathan

  3. What an enlightening post, by Vijaya. yes I do meditate and do Reiki, only when I require the healing and purification can I concentrate , otherwise my mind is jumping from one thought to other! Vijaya is a great artist.
    Yes painting for me is meditation, and I forget the time, hunger and surroundings, only see colors , feel colours and I am at my best with oil paints and canvas.Karma and healing our past , present and future with symbols.
    Thanks Kate for this post.

  4. Vijaya, I love that for you, meditation is the act of creating art. As a person who has always had an uphill battle trying to "meditate", to me this process you are involved in is more natural...the process of creating art is meditation in essence. I find that same sweet spot while walking in the wilderness, away from the sounds of humanity. You as the artist, and me as the woman walking her spirit in nature, are following the path of true bliss!


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