New York is a Lotus Flower

Dedicated to everyone who has passed away from COVID-19. Rest in Peace.

New York is a lotus flower with giant petals.  If the petals were put on the floor, their terrain is so immense that each one would cover a small town.  Between the petals, pathways weave in and out of this labyrinth.  Go in one direction and the petals unfold before you as they fold back behind you.  Turn around and the folded unfold again.  The journey on one side of the lotus becomes a journey on the other.  

New York is a lotus flower with infinite pathways.  Step on the path and look at the petals loom overhead.  From any standpoint, the petals blend into transitory formations that embody the supreme randomness out of which came its design.  See how the petals twist and turn together into a vertiginous dance.  If you whirl clockwise to find your way, the whole flower turns counter-clockwise.  Take a rest and the place where you stood has already shifted away from where you thought you were but a minute ago.

New York is a lotus flower of bright light.  Every petal has a thousand pores radiating.  Every being that lives there bathes in its glory at one time or another.  Its hive energy buzzes anyone who steps on its pathways and delivers them toward the light they seek.  It is a flower of knowledge and know-how.  It’s a beacon to the world.  It’s a place of heartbreaking beauty and all the dimensions of tragedy, too.  And whenever it seems to die it is reborn.  And it gains even more petals which in turn create a seemingly infinite array of new pathways to explore.

New York is a Lotus Flower #1
New York is a Lotus Flower #2
New York is a Lotus Flower #3
New York is a Lotus Flower #4
New York is a Lotus Flower #5
New York is a Lotus Flower #6
New York is a Lotus Flower #7
New York is a Lotus Flower #8
New York is a Lotus Flower #9
New York is a Lotus Flower #`10
New York is a Lotus Flower #11
New York is a Lotus Flower #12
New York is a Lotus Flower #13
New York is a Lotus Flower #14
New York is a Lotus Flower #15
New York is a Lotus Flower #16

The Process: About a year and a half ago I found out that I had an opportunity to studio-sit in Manhattan (otherwise there’s no way I could afford it!) for two weeks.  I treated it as an artist’s residency but on my own dime. To prepare, I poured over as many photographs of New York City from great photographers like Edward Steichen, Helen Levitt, Joel Meyerowitz, Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, and countless more to study how NY was depicted/experienced by others.  Yearning to contribute some way of looking that I hadn’t come across yet embracing all that I have seen. I spent hours thinking of my previous experiences there and how the city felt to me as well.  The dominant theme was that of a labyrinth but I was unsure of how to convey that feeling.  By the time I arrived in NYC, I had my notebook of ideas on what to try, but after many days, I felt like it wasn’t working.  When I could sleep, though, I entered half-dream states where I was ceaselessly wandering through the outer terrain internalized. And then, it came to me.  The simplest of ideas. I tapped into this feeling of the buildings unfolding before me like a thousand petals of immense scale.  Yet also scattered in my mind’s eye these petals came from all over town. Then, this boiled down photographically to two images juxtaposed together in a diptych.  Two images of these buildings from different areas had to be brought next to each other! And once I got to develop them, some blended together, some grated against their companion, and others twisted and turned into uncanny forms from simply placing them side by side in an embrace of the fundamental experience of randomness. After a year of developing them, this is what you see now. 

Where to purchase: They are for sale at www.society6.com/oneroundcorner.  There are prints and framed prints available (the largest size will be the best), in addition to some having small items available like pillows, clocks, iPhone cases, and such. 

Favorite? Of course, I’m proud of all of them but if I had to pick a personal favorite, it’s New York is a Lotus Flower #4 because it references zip paintings by the New Yorker Barnett Newman and I always think of them when I go to New York since I saw them in person for the first time at the MOMA many years ago.  If you have a favorite, I’d love to hear about it! Thank you and enjoy!

The Trap of Time

Once there was a knight who found a labyrinth. As soon as he entered it, though, he exited it in an instant. He wondered what he could have missed because he had been told that this labyrinth was impossible to escape.

He turned around and went back in through the exit and turned corner after corner to find the entrance that he could not so easily find. Some corridors looked long but then felt short. And as soon as the walls seemed to be unfolding toward the entrance that had become the exit, they folded back in on him and made him feel like he was trapped in the smallest of cages.

In one cul-de-sac, he saw a child playing and unconcerned with being in the labyrinth at all. In another dead end, he saw an old knight who was skin and bones and was, like the child, unconcerned about the situation he found himself in. He wondered what cruel hand could have made such a trap.

Sometimes the ground felt soft and the walls seemed to wobble, but then he’d turn on his heels and the ground turned hard and the walls impregnable. He tried to follow a breeze but it would change direction. And the shadows were no help since they changed to fit his view. When he tried to mark a wall or the floor, they appeared where he was sure he had never been before.

The knight wished he had never thought of coming here. He should’ve listened when they told him it was impossible to leave. But exactly that notion of impossibility made it impossible for him to resist. So there he was, where he had always been. But he hadn’t thought enough about it, until he did, and went in through the exit to find the entrance only to get lost in time’s design instead.

Tower of Mirrors

Once I got lost in a labyrinth of mirrors whose scale was magnified by the coldest of ambitions. The exterior was the interior. The slick surfaces provided no place to rest. Only in the movies is it as simple as smashing mirrors. These labyrinthine mirrors were more like glassy volcanic rock that had oozed and solidified from a molten core.

Curtains of watery reflections stall by inspiring a strange sense of wonder at how this labyrinth came into existence. At every glance, it tried to convince me that I was staring at myself and asked me to ignore the way it hacked everything up while it distorted the past so I could not keep track of where I had been.

How could anyone find beauty here? Only a great deceiver could have built this. It was under everyone’s nose in this place, but it had already taken them in – to the degree that they did not see how lost they were in it. The confusion became normalized. Some people even wanted to live here because it had lured them in through the fascism of what they found beautiful. But it also trapped people whose idea of beauty sharply contrasted with it. In a sense, this labyrinth was like a black hole behind the empty mirror image sucking everyone in to worship or blaspheme at its altar of power over truth.