I teach how to fit into a world I don’t want to live in. I just can’t do it anymore.

 

I teach how to fit into a world I don’t want to live in.
I just can’t do it anymore.
– 
John Taylor Gatto

Bill Watterson - Calvin's lament
Shortly after I posted my seven questions for Leonardo I learned of the death of educator and writer John Taylor Gatto.  My questions for Leonardo were intended to shine a light on the way people with a passionate interest in the visual arts are often schooled to produce a production-line version of “fine art” that will succeed in the mainstream market, rather than dive deep into their own authentic creativity regardless of commercial outcomes.  But the wider educational field suffers from the same malaise, and Gatto wrote about it extensively.  So, what is the difference between schooling and educating, and why does it matter?  In what way is it relevant to this site – The Awakened Eye?

In the introduction to the website – art and the intimate unknowable – I wrote,
The Awakened Eye is the eye that perceives without labelling; we could also call it the innocent eye or the eye of beginner’s mind.  Simply put, “schooling” tends to be an exercise in labelling, defining and separating in the service of acquiring knowledge. In other words, it’s a form of training.  It has its uses, but seeing without shadows is not one of them.  On the other hand, education (the root, educare, means to ‘draw out’) will endeavour to help uncover and foster the student’s innate and unique genius.  John Taylor Gatto had a lot to say about schooling; he was outspoken and ruthless in his criticism of the state school system, and he was in a position to know what he was talking about.

Fifty years ago I was venting the same sentiments about my experience as a young teacher in the state school system in New Zealand.  I had started to have nightmares about the psychological harm my students might be experiencing in my classroom as a result of competition and comparison.  If I’d read Gatto’s 1991 confession in the New York Times – “I can’t teach this way any longer.  If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know.” – I’d have been hugely comforted to know I wasn’t the only one.

But I didn’t know about him then; he inhabited the mists of my future.  Life conspired instead to introduce me to the thoughts of Jiddu Krishnamurti, and the highlights of my teaching career occurred in the schools he founded worldwide.

… if we really love our children and are therefore deeply concerned about education, we will contrive from the very beginning to bring about an atmosphere which will encourage them to be free.
– Jiddu Krishnamurti

Please read the full (short) article here: the taming of innate genius

Related:
education for wholeness
the act of seeing
the art of learning


Cartoon by Bill Watterson,  the creative genius behind the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

Calvin and Hobbes


 

your body is a space that sees

The title of this body of work by Lia Halloran – Your Body is a Space That Sees – goes like an arrow to the heart of what this website and blog is about: centerless perception and the closure of the gap between the observer and the observed. I was alerted to Halloran’s work by Maria Popova at brainpickings, however in spite of an extensive trawl of cyberspace, I have failed to find any commentary, from her or anyone else, on the reasoning behind her choice of these words to title her work. I can only assume she has arrived at the truth of this statement via her unique field of experience in science and the visual arts. Perhaps she’s a closet mystic as well. In any event the work is too beautiful not to be shared, and if you happen to live in the Wilmington area you can see it for yourself in ‘real’ rather than virtual space. (Details below.)


Lia Halloran, Horsehead Nebula
 
Your Body is a Space That Sees is series of cyanotype prints that sources historical imagery and narratives to trace contributions of women in astronomy since antiquity. The of series of large scale cyanotype prints will interpret a fragmented history and represent a female-centric astronomical catalog of craters, comets, galaxies and nebula drawing from narrative, imagery and historical accounts of Hypatia of Alexandria, Caroline Herschel, Helen Sawyer Hogg, and a group of women at Harvard in the late 1800’s known as Pickering’s Harem or the Harvard Computers.
 
Lia Halloran, Cyanotype print
 
Cyanotypes are printed from painted negatives that are based on the objects and narratives that were connected to these early astronomers. This process mimics early astronomical glass plates moving between transparent surfaces to a photograph without the use of a camera. The video below shows the process – and as Halloran comments, “Cyanotype printing done using our nearest star outside the studio in sunny Los Angeles, California.”
 

 
From craters to constellations, the images fuse a piercing intensity with an enigmatic subtlety that, like the universe itself, draw us into a beguiling mystery the full meaning of which remains enticingly beyond our reach.

 

Lia Halloran, Magallenic Cloud
 
This project is supported by the National Endowment of the Arts Art Works for Visual Arts. The series of photo/painting pieces will be accompanied by an exhibition catalog with written contributions about the night sky from women in literature, poetry and physics. Research of source imagery will include the extensive glass plate collection at the Harvard College Observatory (HCO).

 

Lia Halloran, Leavitt Crater
 
Lia Halloran lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Art as the Director of the Painting and Drawing Department at Chapman University in Orange, CA, where she teaches painting as well as courses that explore the intersection of art and science. See more of her immensely beautiful and thoughtful work at the intersection of art, science, and human life on her site.


This post has been cobbled together from Lia Halloran’s website and brainpickings – gratitude!

All images copyright Lia Halloran. See more work from this series at this page on her website.

Find information about cyanotype photographic printing at Wikipedia.


Exhibit Dates:
Mar 25, 2017 – Jun 26, 2017
Location:
The Delaware Contemporary
200 South Madison Street | Wilmington, DE 19801
Constance S. & Robert J. Hennessy Project Space


look with fresh eyes

It’s rare to come upon an extraordinarily creative artist who also has a wise and poetic way with words. And to find that this artist has brought together her two skills within the covers of a book that is not only a visual delight but an inspiration for the contemplative creative, is such a joy. Her name is Karen Divine, and she hails from that hotbed of creativity, Boulder, Colorado.

Karen joins the Colorado crew – Jordan Wolfson, Robert Spellman and Lisa Gakyo Schaewe (have I missed anyone?) at the artisans’ gallery. I’m delighted to welcome her. She has opened my eyes to the astonishing creative possibilities of iPhone art.


Our world is filled with internal dialogue, judgments, assumptions and analysis.
We choose these perspectives over having a “direct experience”.
When we view the world with these perspectives, we do not see at all.
We live in a world where certainty and familiarity are most important.
There is another way.

Karen Divine: 16. Harmony. From "A Small Amount of Courage"

16. HARMONY
(LOOK WITH FRESH EYES)

LOOK with fresh eyes at the play of COLOR,
FORM, and TEXTURES that surround you!
This is the most heartfelt approach to embracing
each and every moment. By CONNECTING with HEAVEN
and EARTH you can bring the whole
UNIVERSE into your HANDS

As Rilke expresses beautifully in Letters to a Young Poet: Depict your sorrows and desires, your passing thoughts and beliefs in some kind of beauty, depict all that with heartfelt, quiet, humble sincerity and use to express yourself the things that surround you, the images of your dreams and the objects of your memory.

I have learned to step out of my way, quiet the critic and allow the process to happen, revealing to me a story.

I just shoot my life, stay present and watch what develops.
The opportunities are endless.

– Karen Divine


The image above is from Karen’s book A Small Amount of Courage, which features her iPhone art

“… which you must see to believe. In her book, Karen says, “As an artist, tapping into your own creative spirit is, first and foremost, a matter of developing awareness. This inner awareness allows you to quiet the senses and allows the unconscious to reveal rich imagery.”

Karen used the I Ching as the starting point for each of her images, and her creative process flowed through her meditations, yoga practice, and inspiration from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. The result is 64 images, each accompanied by a short verse, that offer profound insights into the most basic human experiences – those that you are more likely to see in the mirror than on the news.

Karen is an internationally recognized artist with more than a dozen prestigious awards for her iPhone art. After one glance at her work, it’s easy to see why – each image in her book is a composite of many images that feature color, lines, and balance. It is whimsical with a touch of melancholy and offers much for the eye to explore. The verses express Karen’s interpretation of the accompanying image and leave you with much to consider. A Small Amount of Courage is a masterwork that belongs on the bookshelf of all who appreciate art and how it can inspire self-realisation.”
– Jeanne Hansen, editor.

A Small Amount of Courage


Karen Divine at the artisans’ gallery


artisans
artisans’ gallery


who sees the tree?

 

Piet Mondrian: The Red Tree (Evening), 1908 - 10, Oil on Canvas

Piet Mondrian: The Red Tree (Evening) 1908 – 1910

– – –

Look outside at the sleeping tree there. Who sees the tree?

… Does a body do the seeing or does awareness, consciousness, life see it? What sees the tree? Consciousness? – or a body-centered custodian of consciousness?

Where is the tree? Fifty-seven feet removed from a body-oriented ego-container of awareness, a judge who likes or dislikes what he sees? – or is the tree within awareness? Is the seeing of the tree the activity of a separate-from-the-thing-I-see recipient-of-life, a so-many-year-old male or female pump filled organism who looks out through bloodshot eyes and answers to the name of Bill? – or could it be that it is Deity being the “seeing”?

Indeed, isn’t it just possible that Isness, Reality, God, is the seer “seeing” and being the seen? Could it just be that “seeing” itself is the identity “we” are?

Could we be Life itself rather than the recipient of it? Indeed we can! We are!

– William Samuel, The Awareness of Self-Discovery


In order to understand the true meaning of Abstract Art,
we have to conceive of ourselves as a reflex (reflection) of reality.
This means we have to see ourselves as a mirror in which reality reflects itself.
– Piet Mondrian


Image source: www.pietmondrian.info


a streaming … a p p l e n e s s

 

Robert Spellman: Apple

 

… in the reality of experience there is no solid apple. The sight of an apple is actually a subtly changing visual pattern, colors of rose and crimson, red and gold, luminous hues that continually transform as the light changes or we move our head slightly. As we pick up the apple, the hard yet soft, fragrant and cool waxy skin is changing moment by moment. We then experience the wafting smell, the crunch of its flesh, the complex flavors that unfold in our mouth, cool and delicate, as the apple disappears into water and sweetness in our body. The concept of “apple” is static, an object in thought. But directly seeing, holding, eating an apple is a succession of minute, ever-changing, subtle colors, shapes, and perceptions that are never still for a moment. Everything is like this: on one level a fixed, seemingly solid world of concepts, but on another, the immediate reality, a stream of a thousand sense perceptions appearing and disappearing moment after moment. In direct perception there is no solid apple, and no solid one who perceives it.

– Jack Kornfield – The Wise Heart


www.jackkornfield.com

Painting by Robert Spellman


robert spellman at the artisans’ gallery

one begins to glimpse nonduality 


Postscript March 25, 2012:

The current edition of Gentle Voice, the online newsletter of Siddhartha’s Intent,  features (among other delectable items)  an article by/about Robert Spellman – It Takes Two