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Suiko McCall | contemplative painting & social sculpture

Womanifesto

Homage to Claes Oldenberg

I am for art that makes your heart thump thump thump.

I am for knowing myself by the heartbeat in my ears, the rushing of air in and out of my lungs, and the bits of string in my pockets. I am for trembling hands, palms that work, the finger pointing at the moon. I am for falling open to the world. I am for not knowing what comes next. I am for starting at the center of things. I am for cayenne-pepper chocolates. I am for the moment after you dive into a pool, before you touch the surface, when you are flying over undisturbed water. I am for closing your eyes when you eat. I am for the slow strength of potato plants.

I stand for manifesting total freedom, authorization to act. To come up with bigger and more ambitious dreams that offer more and more to the world, taking us all up and up and up until we’re giddy with lack of oxygen. To restore a sense of awe to the world.  A sense of connectedness.  To know the oneness of the universe and express that instead of anything else, to live the universe, to be it. To give up the struggle. To stop arguing with mainstream culture. To be of this very moment, each contiguous unique one, in your heart of hearts.

I am for art that awakens the maker & the viewer.  I am for art that creates chaos out of order. I am for art that systematically repeats a mistake until it becomes a world-mending stitch. I am for welcoming the divine through simple practice. I am for the beauty of things as they are. I am for art that describes inner space & points a way in.

I am for process. I am for droplets of rain catching sunlight on the windshield. I am for art that heals. I am for the inescapable, indescribable, invisible interconnectedness of mind and matter. I stand for coming to know death.

I stand for leaving it up to you. The you that is beyond your name, your body, your personality. The you beyond your identity, beyond your sexuality. The you that has no gender, no name. The you your ego is terrified of. The you that knows all things.

 

Artist Statement

Practice. Studio practice. Contemplative practice. The dedication and rigorous rhythms demanded by both disciplines inspire my work, which explores repetition, breath, and liquid movement as a space of transformation.

In 2007 I moved to Italy to lay the foundation for a monumental life-as-artwork: the Art Monastery. The vision of the project is to establish a community of contemplative artists that applies the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making. With a team of collaborators, I reanimated historic monasteries throughout Italy into international arts production centers. In 2016, we made the transition to the US and today the Art Monastery is located on seven farm-and-barn acres along the Connecticut River in Springfield, Vermont.

My time dedicated to the Art Monastery social sculpture has affirmed the daily link between meditation and studio art-making practices. Practice is a commitment, repetitive and prolonged, a disciplined and sustained effort that yields perspectives that are undiscoverable any other way. Regardless of the stated goal, practice in itself reshapes the practitioner over time, whether gradually or through bursts of inspiration and insight. By engaging the repetitive rhythms of practice, my work also aims to reshape my life as an artist.

The Process

I begin my studio sessions by lighting a candle, offering incense, and invoking the muse and the Divine Mother. I sit quietly with my materials waiting for the impulse to move. I work intuitively, in connection with my breath. I pour ink and move it around the paper with my breath. Each line, drawn with tiny paintbrushes or fine-point pens, is made in intimate relationship with the breath.

The titles of many of my works come from the sacred poetry of the Buddhist sutras I chanted daily while living at Green Gulch Farm Green Dragon Zen Temple, California.

 

Bio

Raised in Buffalo, New York, and garnering degrees from Yale University and San Francisco Art Institute, I bring my experience as a competitive synchronized swimmer, professional knitter, and co-founder of the Art Monastery Project to inform my work. Investigating the relationships among contemplative practice, studio practice, and other kinds of practice (such as swim practice), my work explores breath, repetition, and pattern. My visual work—which takes the form of meditative “breath paintings,” pattern-based paintings on paper—has been exhibited from San Francisco and New York to Amsterdam and London.

In 2007, I co-founded the Art Monastery Project, an international non-profit arts organization dedicated to applying the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making and creativity. Through the Art Monastery, I have organized a variety of immersive experiences, ranging from daylong to monthlong immersions in silence, meditation practice, and experiences aimed at cultivating connection with one’s authentic voice.

In July 2013, I published a book, Hosting Transformation: Stories from the Edge of Changemaking, which I co-authored, co-edited, designed and illustrated. In March 2017, I published a workbook, Live Your Dream: Start Here. Start Nowwhich I authored, edited, designed and illustrated.

My writing and visual art have been featured in publications such as Buffalo Magazine, Readymade, Lucky, Bust, MacWorld, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Gazette, Knitty, as well as repeated television appearances.

I am a founding member of the International Partnership for Transformative Learning.

In August 2019, after a transcendent experience in a buddhist ceremony, I changed my name from Betsy to Suiko, which means light on water. To learn more about the ceremony and the name, take a look at my blog post about it. I lived in various locations throughout Italy from 2008 to 2013, with a group of artists transforming historic monasteries into arts production centers as part of the Art Monastery. From 2014 to 2018, I split my time between Green Gulch Farm / Green Dragon Zen Temple (near San Francisco, CA) and Art Monastery Vermont in Springfield, VT. I currently live full time at Art Monastery Vermont.

 

Social Media

Instagram: suikoart

Facebook: facebook.com/suikoart

Society6: mccallmebetsy

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