This small spiritual collage is loosely based on a traditional drawing of the bodhisattva (enlightened being) Avalokiteshvara, known in Tibet as Chenresig. Images of him have always given me a feeling of deep peace and happiness, even before I knew anything about him. In Mahayana Buddhism, Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva of compassion; one of his various forms has a thousand arms and eleven heads, which he uses to help us become enlightened! Obviously, I took some liberties here, but I figured that was OK, since in some countries/cultures he is female, and is known as the goddess KuanYin. The important thing about this figure is that he/she vows not to go to nirvana (heaven) until all beings achieve enlightenment. You can read more about him here. This collage adorns the Bodhisattva with flowers as an offering for the enlightenment of all beings, and an homage to Spring. To me, spirituality and nature are deeply interconnected, and cannot be separated from one another. The juxtaposition of flower forms with the Avalokiteshvara figure in this small spiritual collage reflects this belief. In the traditional Buddhist drawing, the object in his hands is a wish-fulfilling jewel, but I have replaced it with a lotus flower, the symbol of life and rebirth. Since childhood, I have been a gardener and lover of all things green and growing; to me, a flower is as beautiful as a jewel. I don’t think you have to be a Buddhist to appreciate the sweetness, self-sacrifice, and compassion of Avalokiteshvara.
This piece was constructed by combining some pages of an old artist’s book I had made from an old acrylic ink painting, so it’s double-recycled. I painted the figure with gold metallic paint, and added the map fragments and flowers. The soft, yet bright colors make me feel calm and happy. I hope they’ll do the same for you, and that you’ll decide to make this small spiritual collage a part of your home.