Reflections on Meditation and Sculpture Process
Recently, my meditation practice expanded into my clay studio. There was a spontaneous notion to stop all action, pause every agenda, and sit in the middle of the floor. It was almost surprising how easy it was to do in that fairly busy place. There are hundreds of ceramic figures, raw and expressionistic, in some stage of aspirational metamorphosis. I had somehow discovered that sculpture process in the middle of all those pleading eyes, shouting color and texture, there is a serene place to sit in stillness.
A few months ago during Julian Voss-Andreae’s PNWS Zoom presentation, he mentioned the practice of meditation as an inspiration for art. Very quickly several people responded, a brief but energetic discussion about the challenges of regular meditation practice. This stood out to me: sculptors are into meditation. But it also made sense: I’m a sculptor and I’m into meditation as it’s essential to my sculpture process.
Meditation and Sculpture Process is Different For Every Artist
My meditation practice has found its own organic way over the decades. I took up Transcendental Meditation in High School, studied Buddhist forms in my college years, did the silent retreat in Thailand, and studied chakra theory. All of this has come together into a uniquely personal practice of wordless, keen observation, and intuition. I go where I need to go.
My art practice developed separately in parallel, but included creating objects and images of contemplation as well as performance art that has gravitated toward experiences that defy plain description: ecstasy, awe and improvisation. Conditioning myself before one of my live improvisational performances almost always includes meditation. I haven’t applied this rule to sculpting, probably because it’s already there. Meditation is already within sculpting and sculpting is within my meditation.
At that meeting, Julian also referred to the sculpture of Sir Antony Gormley as being inspired by meditation. There is a distinct similarity between these two artists: figures that reflect inward and seamlessly integrate with landscape, figures of dense materials that also dissolve into space. There is a simplicity and ease within these sculptures, but also a challenge. The center is always implied but never pinned down. I believe that we can never completely know what we are, but striving improves us, makes us more whole, and integrates us with others and the world. We will be endlessly looking and sharing what we see.