At least 40, probably more, slightly larger than life figures sit inside an inflatable boat, waiting for land. Some have horns, some wear ornate collars, and some look like Nefertiti. There are a clan of mythical creatures, historical figures, and nameless men and children, that are searching for hope. Constructed by thin lengths of bamboo that wrap around them in ovals upon ovals, they are fragile as well as strong. They long for space and peace, knowing that they are barely there to the eyes of others. They are hollow and subtle energetically to the western world, yet immersed in theirs you would feel the weight and distress, and crumbling flesh. This is Ai Weiwei's "Life Cycles" at the Marciano Art Center in Los Angeles.
Refuge: a condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble.
A human right.
After the show, I clambered upstairs to see some hidden galleries (the place is so much bigger than it looks when you first enter). And came upon Andrea Bower's piece.
I was delighted to see this piece, because a little spark tickled me, knowing that refuge is found in art, in cultivation of good things in our lives. To seek refuge, we are seeing safety and peace. Sometimes this is external, God forbid it is, and I hope our world can work on helping everyone find safe homes, decent food, and warmth. But many people also seek internal refuge, knowing that even though they are in a warm house, their hearts are longing for a closeness to… the everything. To the joy that we all can experience, but for some reason don’t know how to just “turn on”.
I see this joy as something kids play so easily with. They run around, chasing each other and laughing their heads off. No cash required.
Sometimes, when I need refuge, I light a candle, turn on some soft music and bring out my art supplies and tarot deck. I’ll pull a card or two and let it speak to me. Usually the cards bring forward a theme that I can then work with in a small art piece. This is why I’m so excited to share the tarot deck that I’ve been working on with all of you. I find tarot, basically, art therapy. Images can help us literally SEE what’s going on for us, where talking or reading a book may not touch the abstract place that we need to view from. Of course, with all internal work, our power is within, but tarot can be such a lovely catalyst to accessing that power.
Photo by Carrie Mallon
Keep track of the tarot deck and potential release dates on instagram: @thespacioustarot !