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Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the etheric double of humans. The Chakras are said to be 'force centers' or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation.Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies.Different systems posit a varying number of chakras; the most well known system in the West is that of seven chakras.
There are many paintings and drawings of chakras but few stone sculptures. The sculptures seem to have been the result of my own practice of yoga. By 2011 I had been practicing yoga for nearly fourty years, including Kundalini, Kripalu,and Shivananda. After being accredited as an instructor by Marie Paulyn's “Hatha and Raja Yoga studies in 2002, I developed my own breath coordinated posture flow which I call Pranasana Yoga.
From 2003-2009 I began to create stone carvings represent the seven chakras or energy centres of the body. What amazes me the most about the carvings is not their physical form, but rather the rather unusual process of their creation. I exerted little conscious intellectual control over their development and I made no conscious references to other sculptures in art history.
I seemed to be simply a channel for the manifestation of these sculptures, and kept being surprised by the way they took shape. For example, the sculptures were created without reference to the sequence of their position in the body. I carved one each year, starting with the First, then jumping to the Seventh, Fourth , Second, Third, Sixth and then finally the Fifth chakra.
The inspiration for the First chakra sculpture came to me in 2003 while in a yoga posture that brought the ball of my right foot into the arch of the left. Looking at the S-shaped curve formed at the inside boundaries of my feet, I was reminded of the Yin-Yang symbol. The gray limestone carving shown below is a replica of my own feet, mounted on a hard black granite from Zimbabwe.
After creating “My Feet in Prayer” I did not think of the sculpture as representing of the First chakra. This realization did not occur until a year later, after I had completed my second carving. The inspiration for this Seventh chakra sculpture came completely out of the blue in the summer of 2004, as my wife and I traveled to Haliburton, Ontario, where my stone carving workshop was being offered by Fleming College. I had no idea what I intended to carve the next day, until Myra took over driving and I fell asleep in the passenger seat.
My dreams were all about mirrors and reflections, so the next day I purchased a package of 12 inch square mirror glass and duct tape before I went to class. Before starting to carve, I taped three of the squares together into a right-angled corner. Standing this corner on its point, I filled a portion of the interior volume with modelling clay to form a maquette, which I then used as a reference in carving a three-sided pyramid of translucent alabaster. The pyramid was positioned between the panes of mirror glass, and the entire assembly was placed upon a mirror glass base that focused a beam of light on the bottom of the pyramid so that it glows in the dark.
It was only when I looked down at the alabaster pyramid lodged between the three panes of mirror glass did I realize that the multiple reflections reminded me of the “Crown Chakra”. Only then did I begin to think of “My Feet in Prayer” as representing the “Root Chakra,” I felt a bit overwhelmed, realizing that I needed another five carvings to complete a series representing the entire chakra system.
Once I had recognized the possibility of seven stone carvings, my intellect took over in conceptualizing the Fourth or “Heart Chakra”. At the time, I was working as a psychotherapist, orienting own my yoga practice to opening up the heart chakra, and conducting weekend yoga workshops on this topic. I was also exploring the “golden ratio”(psi) and it's relationship to aesthetics. This ratio is inherent in the traditional two dimensional image of the heart chakra, which includes two overlapping equilateral triangles, or what the west understands as “The Star of David.” The sculpture I created in the summer of 2005 is a three dimensional version of this image, the intersection of the upward moving Yin triangle with downward moving Yang.
The process of developing the Second Chakra sculpture was much more irrational and difficult. It began in the spring of 2006, with my discovering the golden ratio in the dimensions of a set of four “clinker grinders” from an old coal fired furnace. Their cross sectional shape reminded me of vertebrae, with a rusty orange colour traditionally associated with the Second Chakra, desire, sexuality and creativity. Since the element associated with this chakra is water, I conceived a fountain where the forged steel grinders helped to distribute the water over the surface of a stone carved into the shape of a sacrum. Control over the volume water was achieved through the use of pumps, valves and irrigation technology. In 2008, I added icy ceramic curtains on either side of the sculpture to create the overall image of a seven foot tall flower.
In contrast to my Second chakra struggles, the development of the Third chakra in 2007 was relatively quick and simple. The form was based on circles representing the solar plexus, with two intersecting discs carved to reveal six Yin/Yang symbols. To complete the depiction of the ego centre, I trained an aggressive “English Lace” vine to encircle the sculpture to represent what Freud conceptualized as the psyche's irrational “ID”.
The process of creating the Sixth chakra was probably the most difficult and irrational of all, perhaps because it represents the seat of intuition. I started with a vague image of the centre revealing itself through the use of mirrors. Consequently, I spent much of 2007 designing and constructing a multi-mirrored bathroom to provide the context for the sculpture. It was only after the renovations were complete did I realize I could use the reflections from a 120 degree mirror to create a “Third Eye” illusion from the reliefs in a small, pie-shaped piece of black granite.
The last sculpture of the series is the Fifth or “Throat Chakra”, the seat of communication. For a long time I had thought about using the image of a humming bird to convey the meaning of the Fifth chakra. In Native American mythology they are often associated with joyful messages and healing. For more about their mythology please visit http://hummingbirdworld.com/h/native_american.htm. A humming bird feeding from a blue flower is the visualization I recommend in the practice of a trauma therapy called emotional tuning. I made six free videos available at http://www.emotionaltuning.com for people suffering from anxiety disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder
However, during a trip to India in the spring of 2009 I became fascinated with a symbol which depicts the caste system. To the western eye it looks like a anticlockwise swastika, with a dot in each quadrant. Intellectually, I became convinced the Fifth chakra could be represented in three dimensions by intersecting squares.
I created a small carving in a flawless white Turkish limestone. Consequently, I found time to enhance a humming bird image that I found locked in a rough piece of agate When I placed them together, the two carvings seem to be communicating so I now treat them as companion pieces representing the fifth chakra together. The sculpture of intersecting squares is highly conceptual, whereas the bird is a free form abstraction. Together, they represent the intellectual and intuitive polarities of the artistic process.