This 28” square ancestral healing mandala surprised me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
It was created working from light to dark, adding progressively deeper hues of indigo, with each layer of shape masked off with beeswax. The process itself led me to touch into all 1,024 ancestral hands not once but three separate times as I added in individual palm and finger prints using a thin brush of hot wax.
I had sketched, tested, and planned this design in such a way that all of the left hands would hold a pearl of light as bright as the paper’s surface, and the right hands were placed in support of the left, progressively fading into blue in the outer perimeter.
I had been practicing this technique for years in my self-taught silk painting, and while I was nervous attempting such a big undertaking, I also had a certain amount of confidence in that I had done everything I could to prepare, and now it was time to take a leap of faith and apply my practice towards this bigger vision that I had been dreaming about and meditating with for the last 18 months.
By the time the final layer of indigo dye had dried and it was time to iron off all of the wax to witness the image reveal itself for the first time, I was elated. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my creative career in that, I had attempted this very piece on multiple occasions and kept falling short: it felt like my brain simply could not hold the demands of the geometrical and mathematical aspects of the image alongside with the elements of mystery and flow that comes through the incorporation of hot/cool and wet/dry- all this, along with PATIENCE.
As I slowly removed the ironing paper and witnessed the revealing for the first time, I realized that countless hours of my devotion to each hand’s significance had dissolved into a sea of blue. The majority of depth and dimension that I had practiced for so long to create was lost.
But what felt so fulfilling for me was to realize that I was Ok with this. The painting was not a failure; it was simply a byproduct of my devotion to the process.
The process was my prayer, and the painting is forever imprinted on my heart.
I’m encouraged to keep trying.
Ancestral Study/7 Generations no. 28
Indigo dye, Frankincense, Rosewater, Beeswax on Arches
On view at AS220 115 Empire Street through September 25, 2021.