I began this project about a year ago after a trip to the Forest of Peace, a retreat center outside of Tulsa Oklahoma. A benefactor there had solicited artist proposals to transform a concrete storm shelter into a meditation chamber. Her inspiration for the space were images of the dark mothers from three religious traditions: Black Madonna (Christian), Black Tara (Buddhist), and Dhurga (Hindu). She saw it a place to stare into the darkness of the abyss, confront one's fears and and emerge spiritually reorganized. The outside of the chamber would be painted to blend into the sandy landscape with markings that recall the oracle chamber in Malta, Italy, a place famous for its acoustics.
While I painted the three portraits in my studio at home, I spend eight days in October completing the installation. During those days in the cave, I was able to confront my own fears staring into the abyss. I surfaced ready to take the next steps in my professional life. It was time to leave my job and devote 100% to creating art and tending to Spring Bird. Even if this journey results in failures, I have to walk down this path or live with enormous regret.
The slideshow below tells a little of the story of creating the Cave. Since the space is tight, it was nearly impossible to get good photos. Also, since the paintings were varnished to protect them from the elements, there is a nice amount of glare. . .
It helps that my new commute is a mere walk to the studio rather than close to 2 hours of train riding. To transition to this new career path, the whole family made stepping stones from concrete and fragmented dishes. I'd had this project on my list for years, and though it is such a simple thing, it felt so good to cross it off. It was the perfect step forward into new adventures at home in my studio.
Anna Lentz, artist and writer, blogs about making a creative life connected with nature at Spring Bird.