ink painter – writer – sculptor – draftsman – teacher
Rather than any of the labels above, Frederick Franck liked to call himself an image-maker. He was a true Renaissance Man, writing books and creating images until his death at 94.
His first book, The Zen of Seeing: seeing/drawing as meditation, revealed drawing-as-meditation as something much more profound than the end product called an artwork; it was a profound influence on both my studio practice and teaching pedagogy. He went on to write over 30 books, including The Awakened Eye, to which the title of this site pays homage.
Franck loved to quote Zen master Hui Neng:
The meaning of life is to see.
It wasn’t just any old seeing that was referred to however; he knew what it meant to encounter nondual awareness. For him it was a direct impulse from heart-seeing to hand-scribbling with no loop through the labeling and categorizing part of the brain. It was seeing without the shadows of conditioning, and marveling at what turned up on the paper.
It is [the] flash of realization of not-two-ness, that is both the center and the endpoint of our human experience.
The purpose of ‘looking’ is to survive, to cope, to manipulate … this we are trained to do from our first day. When, on the other hand, I SEE, suddenly I am all eyes, I forget this ME, am liberated from it and dive into the reality that confronts me.
There is no other reason for drawing than the awareness of the eye awakening from its half-sleep. There is – I am convinced – no other good reason for art, all the art-popes and theories notwithstanding…
Paradise, for Zen, is accessible now and here, for it is our everyday world, but perceived by the awakened eye.
To be liberated from the pathology of avidya (which in Sanskrit literally means not-knowing, ignorance, in the sense of un-intelligence, i.e. stupidity!) is to be awakened or enlightened, to see realistically, to find one’s place in the organic Whole, to see with the awakened eye.
You are not copying nature, but responding to nature in full awareness, to the way nature expresses itself in that object.
– Frederick Franck
Online articles about Frederick Franck aren’t easy to find; this one is worth a look –
spirituality and practice
Update: A new website dedicated to Frederick Franck and Pacem in Terris, his “trans-religious sanctuary in Warwick, New York.”
Other pages about Frederick Franck:
The Zen of Seeing