Media: Copper oxide, avocado pit & wild grape on paper
About the materials
I made all of the inks used in this piece from materials foraged around Art Monastery Vermont, along the banks of the Connecticut River, on the ancestral land of the Abenaki, who continue to live on and care for that land today.
Making inks from materials I've foraged from my surroundings connects me to the land and is a way of practicing the ethics of "not stealing". How so? The Buddhist precept of "not stealing" can be interpreted as only taking what is freely offered. The earth offers us so much. The earth literally offers us everything we need to survive... and more! Is mining pigments and producing plastics taking what is freely offered? Most mainstream art supply companies manufacture their products via destructive extractive processes and then package them in problematic, polluting materials. I am far from zero waste, but foraging and creating my own inks are one small step that I make to honor and restore the earth.
The natural inks in this painting are living! The piece will evolve as it interacts with air, humidity, and time. How will it change over time? Just like any other living breathing thing, there's no way to know how it will respond to its environment. That what makes working with natural inks so beautiful and real.
About the title
The title "Return to Where You Are" is a line from Genjokoan, a seminal poem-essay by Soto Zen Buddhism lineage founder Dogen Zenji. The full line reads:
When you ride in a boat and watch the shore, you might assume that the shore is moving. But when you keep your eyes closely on the boat, you can see that the boat moves. Similarly, if you examine myriad things with a confused body and mind you might suppose that your mind and nature are permanent. When you practice intimately and return to where you are, it will be clear that nothing at all has unchanging self.
May this painting be a reminder
May this painting serve as a reminder, an invitation to return to the freedom of the present moment. May we each find our way back to our power, back to our joy, back to the wisdom that has always been within us. May we return to truth, to connection, to bravery, and to love. May we return to where we are.