Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Artist views: Religion, spirituality revealed through artwork

*This article was originally published by the Viễn Đông on 29 November 2011. It was reported by Vanessa White.

LONDON, England—Ms. Padmayogini becomes in touch with her environment before capturing an image.
She wishes to see and reveal life for what it is. No filters, no mediation.
“We seem to spend so much of our days surrounded by visual imagery, that it can seem hard to really see the world around us at all,” she wrote in her personal blog, adding that people often allow their friends, family, the media, and the corporate elite to conceive the world for them rather than seeing it through their own perspectives.
Ordained as a Buddhist in 2002, Ms. Padmayogini aims to reflect her spirituality through her painting and photography.
Working with both the urban environment in London as well as the “natural world,” Ms. Padmayogini is drawn to the spirit and interconnectedness within the planet.
“I have rather an eclectic approach to my work, responding to the world around me with what seems like the right medium,” she wrote, again emphasizing her “dialogue” with the environment she is painting or photographing.
Practicing breathing exercises for a few minutes during the day, focusing solely on her presence and awareness, help her to see the world more clearly.
“If we can come back to ourselves, through mindful means and then re-look at the world around us, we will see a richer and more detailed world and our experience will be much more satisfying,” she wrote. “Just looking without adding to what we see.”
Changing what is seen
Brother Mickey O’Neill McGrath, age 54, is trying to use his artwork and religion to transform the environment around him.
“It's a rough place,” he was quoted in the Toledo Blade, speaking about his home in Camden, New Jersey. “It's the second-most dangerous city and the second-poorest, but there's so much good happening through the churches. It's very exciting as an artist.”
A member of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales religious order, Brother McGrath also travels throughout the United States, presenting his illustrations and hoping to inspire audiences through storytelling.
“I used to sit under my Mom's ironing board and watch As the World Turns every afternoon, drawing on paper my Dad brought home from work,” he was quoted. “I was a very shy and self-conscious kid and drawing was kind of a safe place for me.”
Upon graduating from college, Brother McGrath entered the seminary. Initially, he wanted to become a priest but decided to become a brother so he could keep his artwork first.
Focusing on creating Romanesque and Gothic art, the kind featured on stain-glass cathedral windows, Brother McGrath was able to combine his art with religion and has been asked to create art for Catholic parishes and universities nationwide.
He usually paints with acrylics; however he has discovered that the Apple iPad proves to be a productive way of creating digital sketches for his Christmas cards.
Along with using new mediums for creating artwork, Brother McGrath is opening his mind to new ways of seeing aspects of Catholicism, creating a non-traditional graphic displaying Baby Jesus in the arms of Joseph.
“Mary gets enough attention, he was quoted. “I have a particular devotion to Joseph and fatherhood.”
Though, Brother McGraw’s devotion runs much deeper. He is ultimately interested in creating beauty through painting and storytelling; something he believes will save the world.
Choosing which world to live in
Mr. Damien Marley, age 33, is a Jamaican musical recording and performing artist who uses his reggae/dance hall style music to convey his message of brotherhood to his listeners.
Son of the late singer and songwriter, Bob Marley, and a practicing Rasta, Mr. Damien rejects the oppression of Western society, particularly the oppression of African slave descendants.
Rastas are members of the Rastafari Movement which arose in Jamaica during the 1930s. Not an organized religion, the Rastafari Movement encourages Rastas to find faith and inspiration within themselves, treating themselves as royalty, countering the inferiority they feel that dominant culture places on them.
“Don’t you ever give up, don’t you ever give in,” Mr. Damien sings in his song “We’re Gonna Make It” off his 2005 Welcome to Jamrock album. “Speak of love Jah [God’s] children and be proud of who you are.”
He continues, urging his listeners to concentrate on the brighter sides of life.
“It’s not too late,” he sings. “I know we’re gonna make it.”
Info on artists
To listen to Mr. Damien’s music, visit online at http://www.myspace.com/damianmarley.
To view Ms. Padmayogini’s blog and artwork, visit online at http://padmayogini.blogspot.com/.
To view a blog, video, and some of Brother McGrath’s paintings, visit online at http://www.visitationmonasteryminneapolis.org/2011/11/the-annunciation-advent-reflection-based-on-brother-mickeys-art/.

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