Be the Change You Want to See

Be the change you want to see. It’s a quote by Mahatma Gandhi that Obama recently re-popularized on a tote bag.

It’s a statement that resonates with me (I guess that’s why I bought the bag).

And when I close my eyes and think of what this idea may look like, visually, I can’t help but go here:

One of the options you get when you google “psychedelic mandala.” Yes, I’m going there and I can’t help it. I’m a Northern California hippie at heart. And there is a reason why this image is so powerful.

Do you feel me?

If change begins inward, then it  ripples out into the world, bumping into other things and transforming outwardly along the way, like a mandala, an orbit, a circle.

Chris Duncan’s paintings communicate this universal interconnectedness for me. Starting from the center, his colors vibrate and spread outwardly. His installations allow us to enter these fields, acknowledging our own relationship to it.

Chris Duncan, Everything All At Once

Chris Duncan, Eye Against I, 2010, installation at Eli Ridgway Gallery, San Francisco

Chris Duncan (I couldn’t find caption for this piece, sorry).

Then there are Chris Johanson’s wonky mandala-ish paintings, perhaps reminding us of our own beautiful flaws and the inherent disharmony in the world. Yet, despite this, somehow everything holds together. In these works there is no perfect symmetry, just a complicated lovely world.

Chris Johanson, Totalities, Deitch Projects Poster

Chris Johanson, Forever is Both Ways for All Time (Perceptions #2), 2007, Sugarlift aquatint and aquatint etching, 37 x 45 inches, edition of 40

I could spend all day looking at mandala-inspired art, which would be fun, but I’m sure someone has done a better job of it on the internet.

But what is interesting to me in thinking about abstract language and imagery, is how image can transport us to an internal and emotional state of mind. Music easily does this, too,  but when this happens through image (as a person invested in the visual and tactile) it’s pretty magical.

If change begins internally, as Gandhi suggested in his powerful message, then what we do and how we see is critical in being the change. I’m now seeing these works in a new way, which begins with me…

Thanks for following my strange post today, I had no idea where I was going from the very beginning.


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