In the early 1970′s Chogyam Trungpa came to the U.S. with the goal of teaching Buddhism in the West. He created a unique form of American Buddhism that has produced a lineage of practitioners that live throughout the world. Beyond the powers of his teachings or perhaps, I should say, among the powers of his teachings, was his extraordinary use of metaphor.
Performance artist Guillermo Gomez Pena has said that North Americans do not understand metaphor. For the most part I think this is very true. Our understanding of what is real or “unreal”, or seen and unseen is very unclear. That is why artists are often looked upon with some type of skepticism by the non-art making world. We often illuminate realities (through metaphor) that others would prefer to ignore or do not realize. This is not about any particular “craziness”. It is just about having the balls to point out what others will not. If Gomez Pena’s idea regarding metaphor is the case, it would make Chogyam Trungpa’s teachings rather difficult to grasp for some and for many, unfortunately, missed entirely.
I would offer that among Trungpa Rinpoche’s greatest gifts was his use of language. His Tibetan monastic cultural roots, his Oxford training, his extraordinarily flexible and disciplined mind allowed him a level of fluidity and perspective in speech that is powerful and poetic. What he said danced on the thin line shared by shamanism and performance, coupled with his awareness that objects have their own energy.
Among the “traditional” Buddhist terms that Trungpa Rinpoche translated for his students was the term Bodhisattva.
From two Sanskrit words meaning wisdom or enlightenment and being, Bodhisattva, a term applied in Buddhism to a seeker, who reaches for enlightenment not only for himself or herself but also, and perhaps especially, for all sentient beings.
Rinpoche’s used the term Warrior in his Shambhala teachings to describe a Bodhisattva; an individual very much involved in the world, being guided by wisdom and compassion.
The work that accompanies this posting is entitled Shield Drawn from the Warrior’s Path. It references the above concept in that a Bodhisattva is on a path and constantly awake while on that path. Our path is embodied up to this very moment. The entire path is a warrior’s shield for valuable contemplation.
I continue to work with mark making that illustrates my breathing. The mark has become directional. I am moving away from the dots that have formed many grid works over the last few years. I am now using an “arrow” marking that is moving forward, at times looking like mountains and creating paths sometimes circular; basically returning to their point of origination to begin again. In this particular work the earth from Masonville is used to color the muslin on which the ink image has been drawn.
Jennie Kiessling is practicing artist living in Masonville, CO. She teaches Museum and Gallery Studies, Contemporary Issues in Art and Art Appreciation at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins. Her work is in private and public collections nationally and internationally.
Be inspired by Jennie to live Outside the Studio