In early 2016 I was facing a crisis of work. "What do I want to do with my life?"
I'm a big fan of podcasts, and of listening to the world in general. One of my favorite podcasts has been OnBeing where host, Krista Tippet, holds in-depth conversations with poets, artists, scientists, religious leaders, and seekers of all kinds.
One particular episode spoke to me on a number of levels, and I found myself returning to it quite frequently during this period of self discovery.
This conversation lead me to a greater understanding of what it means to be an artist, something I was always running from, and offered a much needed guide to an inner world which I had always been exploring but never sure of.
The Inner Landscape of Beauty: Base Mandala
I call the graphic you see on the left the Base Mandala because I designed it as a base for further explorations into the nature of beauty and generative art. You can see the generation of this image in the two images following.
Since this conversation spoke to nearly every issue I found important at the time, with a remarkable sensitivity and confident unsurity I still appreciate, I figured it would be a fitting base to work with.
Since I was also exploring my relation to the landscape of Iowa through the milkweed plant, and was deeply interested in the strangeness of the five-part symmetry present in its remarkable flowers, I designed the base with strong qualities of five-part symmetry by taking the spectrogram field and superimposing itself with a series of 72 degree rotations.
Taking this base, which is inherently beautiful thanks to its embedded geometry, I could then confidently explore universal qualities of generative beauty.
The #MilkweedMandala is an ongoing exploration of the Iowan landscape, our built environment, generative art, the nature of beauty, and its role in our modern, quasicrystalline life. I began the project in early 2016 and it continues to the present day. All process up to this point can be viewed on Instagram under the hastag, #MilkweedMandala.
The project is now in its fourth iteration. My intent is to cast 70 pieces of an eventual design which will be made available for $1,500. 20% of the proceeds will be donated to support the work of Milkweed Matters which pairs riders of Iowa's annual RAGBRAI bike ride across Iowa with tens of thousands of milkweed seedballs. The aim is to restore milkweed habitats to the landscape for Monarch Butterflies whose caterpillars rely on exclusively as a food source.
How much life can be generated from a 1 inch piece of willow charcoal turned on its side?