I was fortunate to grow up in the home of art appreciators where being an artist was valued. My parents gave me art classes, dance classes and music lessons from a very young age. In college, I studied art, literature and philosophy and always was busy making something.
In 1983, I traveled to the Khumbu region of Nepal with my husband and children for 12 days of trekking with the Sherpas, Tibetan Buddhists, who graciously showed us their land and their customs. I returned, deeply touched and transformed by the lovingkindness and compassion that was their normal daily practice. I knew that I wanted to make art that reflected the depth of meaning in the prayer flag. The notion of ancient Sanskrit mantras for peace, lovingkindness and compassion carried by the wind, rain and elements to the four corners of the earth resonated in my heart. Prayer flags are meant to be exposed to the elements so the prayers can circumvent the earth. When they disintegrate, they are burned and their ashes also are scattered in the four directions.
I was trained as an artist in the ’60s at the University of Vermont, became an educator and an environmental activist and raised a family, which left me little time for my art. Finally, in 2011, I was compelled to make time for my Metta prayers, the prayers of lovingkindness and compassion.
To make each piece, I first write the Metta Sutta, the Buddha’s words of lovingkindness and compassion on paper or canvas. Then I write my own prayer to the earth and ask forgiveness for the destruction and devastation we have created in the name of civilization, progress and technology. I write these two prayers until the space is filled. The canvas is baptized in the ocean, river, stream or rainwater. I cover the canvas with earth and then I apply colors and set them free. I have collected earth from all over the world for this.
My pieces are infused with the desire that the earth and all beings be filled with lovingkindness and compassion, that all beings be at ease, that we treat each other as a mother cares for her child, and that the rivers, forests, mountains, oceans and every place on earth be safe from all harm and free from fear and suffering. I do incorporate other wisdom in the works.
“We are here to alleviate each other’s suffering”
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."
-Rabbi Tarfon...The Talmud
"May all beings be filled with lovingkindness and compassion. May all beings be safe from all harm and free from fear and suffering. May all beings be at ease"
-Buddha’s Metta prayer