Zen Wave, Sumi Ink and Pigment on rice paper, 2005
When the Christmas Tsunami hit, I was as appalled, amazed, fascinated and in the end, pretty much disturbed by the whole event. It remained intellectual to me until I heard a bereaving father tell how he could not keep a-hold of his children in the flood tide, and lost them forever. Suddenly the emotional grief welled up out of me. As with earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, it is strange when the world that nurtures us suddenly becomes so violent. Its hard to imagine living a peaceful existence by a sea that provides fish and warm sandy beaches, and then having that consistent friend and provider well up and smash your whole life into ruin. A few days after the Tsunami event, I found my self compelled to paint images of waves. At first They were large and terrible, dark pigments and overwhelming shapes. I put crude calligraphic figures in the water, people trying to get away. As I painted the waves began to tame, the colors became rich and luminous again, and the victims turned into body surfers and happy swimmers. In the end, like my paintings, I too had regained some sense of peace with the world. The painting you see here, The Zen Wave, happened toward the calm end of that creative arc.
Everyone processes grief in different ways, Perhaps for some people the process of depicting traumatic events with art, becomes therapeutic and healing. I went through a similar experience right after 911. Perhaps I can share some of those images one day.