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War and Healing

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This is an artwork titled “Threshold” by Sanaz Mazinani. At first glance it reminded me of a rock in Taiwan’s coastal line which was eroded and transformed by wind and turned into a female head with a beautiful neck line.

This artwork resembled a bust of an elegant woman to me. I can see her profile with her neck, chin, nose, an eye, a smooth forehead, and a pretty hairdo curled up into a bun. The background is a dazzling starry night with countless bright stars, the kind that makes you speechless and in awe and brings you a feeling of peace, not very often seen in real life. I only saw such a scene a couple of times in my life, and I would love to see it again. Of course, the viewers soon come to realize that it is not a real human, but a mushroom cloud created by an explosion.

One might wonder if it is the atomic bomb in World War II, but it is something that happened recently. Sanaz Mazinani created her digital photo-based installations Threshold #1 – 4 from four recent news media images of explosions in the Middle East. She used photos, thermoplastic adhesive, enamel paint, ink and others.

To copy this image with so many dots is a challenge for me because it is difficult to create small white dots and chunks in pencils or charcoals; but drawing it gave me an opportunity to see the artwork very carefully and intimately.

It is very easy to forget that every day there are wars in this world living in the United States. Yet it is a reality. The existence of wars is a manifestation of the group unconsciousness of hatred in our mind. This piece reveals that even though the bombs are powerful and dangerous, yet if you just look at it from a long distance and detached, you may only see its sublime beauty and forget its destructive power. If you regard enemies as worthless trash instead of fellow human beings, you won’t hesitate to kill them. Furthermore, you may want to do it fastest by using the mass destructive weapons.

What is the message of the artwork? Mazinani gives an enchanting image and asks us to consider the price behind it. In her own words, she said, “The symbolic likeness of an explosion stands in for an act of violence, but also for depictions of power that are sublime and awe-inspiring. We are surrounded by a culture of fetishism of weapons.” And I think the viewers get the message loud and clear.

The design is balanced with one large single object in the center plane, and it is composed of many irregular white dots and shapes large and small, creating an uneven textured surface like our earth or moon. The contour line is organic and looks like a female head with good contrast of darkness and brightness. The soft yellow grains on the bottom surface resemble a sandy beach to me. Overall, it is an attractive and intriguing image with a deeper message to appeal for peace. Yes, peace, please.

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尋找靜心迷宮

「一天深夜,我到位於舊金山的慈恩大教堂,走了一回靜心迷宮,『與改變為友』」是我冥想的主題,在整個過程中,我一直不停的哭泣。」美國作家沙克(Sark)在她的書「裸體吃芒果」(Eat Mangoes Naked)中如此寫著。那是許多年前的事了,也是我第一次聽說靜心迷宮(Labyrinth)。

慈恩大教堂(Grace Cathedral)到底是個什麼樣的地方呢?住在舊金山灣區的我感到很好奇,終於,今年(2008年)的感恩節假期,我們一家就一起去朝聖了,舊金山的教堂其實很多,我們途經數個華麗龐大的教堂,但是都不是慈恩大教堂,如果不是老公開車,我是不敢自己來舊金山的,高低起伏劇烈的道路,很像坐雲霄飛車,女兒在一旁吵著說肚子餓,我很沮喪的說:「我們一定迷路了,早知道就把地址和電話帶來,還是回家吧。」

說也奇怪,在幾個插著萬國旗的國際旅館圍繞中,居然出現了一座中古時期哥德式的教堂,很樸素的灰色外牆,據說是模仿法國沙特爾大教堂(Chartres Cathedral)而建成,慈恩教堂屬聖公會教會(Episcopal Church),我不是基督徒,對宗教派別不清楚,只是聽老公說聖公會的儀式與教義與天主教最接近,難怪慈恩教堂看起來就像一座天主堂教堂,裡面有高聳的屋
頂、玫瑰窗、彩繪玻璃和聖方濟 (St. Francis of Assisi) 的雕像等。

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慈恩大教堂的大門,居然就是著名的「天堂之門」(Gates of Paradise),這是文藝復興時期義大利大師吉柏提 (Lorenzo Ghiberti) 所設計的東門的複製品,真是太巧了,我才剛修完西洋藝術史,不用去歐洲,就可以親眼目睹,真是太幸運了!

「天堂之門」有兩扇銅門,每扇是十六英尺高,一點三噸重,門上共有十塊浮雕銅板,每塊都是畫著舊約的故事,例如亞當和夏娃被逐出伊甸園圖。慈恩大教堂的工作人員,每年必須要用肥皂和水把大門清潔一次,再塗上一層松節油加蜂蠟來保護,一年中只有很特別的日子,大門才會被打開。

英文叫Labyrinth的「靜心迷宮」,慈恩大教堂在室內和室外各有一個;一般人熟知的迷宮陣,英文叫Maze,通常是長型的,有許多路徑和死路,是設計來讓人困惑的;靜心迷宮則是螺旋式圓形迷宮(參看附圖),只有一條路徑可到達中心點,我不知它確實的大小,共有十一圈,每圈的寬度至少要比成人的腳稍大,才方便在上面行走。

螺旋式圓圈循環,不只是會向前走,也會倒退,但是其實是更上一層樓了,離中心點也越來越近了,與靈修成長有很相似的過程,一些我們自以為已克服的習氣,可能會再出現,這時候也不要氣餒,你仍然是向圓的中心前進。

雖然走靜心迷宮是數百年前就開始的一種儀式,今天又大受歡迎,已被視為靈修的工具之一,也被用作一種悟道蛻變的隱喻,靜心迷宮代表每個人神聖的求道過程。

靜心迷宮也具有治療的功用,「靈魂的調色盤」(The Soul’s Palette)是一本有關藝術治療的書,作者凱西‧邁綺歐蒂 (Cathy Malchiodi) 提到,當我們遇到困境時,靜心迷宮有助澄清思緒和發抒情感,有些美國的醫院就設有靜心迷宮花園,讓癌症或愛滋病人和家屬能夠到此沉思,與上帝對話。

我自己常去的聖荷西靈修中心,幾年前,在後花園也建了一個靜心迷宮,也是仿照沙特爾大教堂的樣式,用沙土和小石頭排組成,小孩和大人都喜歡在聚會後,順著路徑走一走,需要很專注,才能走到中心點。

在舊金山一處叫「陸地終點」(the Land’s End) 的海灘上,也有人用石塊作了個大型靜心迷宮,在有籃天、有風、有水的地方走迷宮,不知是何風情,我希望有機會去看一看。如果有一天,我有個很大的後院,我希望能夠建築一個屬於自己的靜心迷宮。

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不過,你現在就可以和我一起來走迷宮,使用在本文中的所附的迷宮圖,如果你慣用右手,就用你的左手,左撇子就用右手,讓我們就用手指來一趟迷你的迷宮之旅吧!

慈恩大教堂的網站 http://www.gracecathedral.org/

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