trampling the dwarf of ignorance

I love this iconic copper statue of the Hindu deity Shiva, created in 9th century India.  Shiva is the destroyer of evil, often depicted as he is here, dancing the cosmos into existence by trampling the Dwarf of Ignorance.  The purpose of his dance is “to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion.”  Shiva symbolizes creation and destruction.  He destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.

With roots reaching back into prehistory, Hinduism is the oldest of the world’s religions, and the most diverse.  Hinduism grants absolute and complete freedom of belief and worship, including Hindu Atheism.   It conceives the whole world as one family, and therefore it accepts all forms of beliefs and dismisses labels.  It has no single founder, no single scripture, no single deity, no single prophet, no priesthood, and no single way to reach salvation.

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If our words shape our thinking, then looking at this elegant Arabic page from a manuscript of the Quran makes me appreciate how important our basic language is in bridging our understanding of one another.

There are roughly 300 million Arabic speakers in the world.  Pretty close to the population of the U.S. (313 million).

How does our vocabulary shape the way we think?

How would our thinking change if we could speak each other’s language?

haunting faces

Human sculpture is one of my favorite things to photograph.  There’s nothing more haunting to me than seeing hand-carved representations of people throughout the ages, frozen in time, in three dimensions.

Sculpture as an art form goes back to Prehistoric times.  Most Stone Age statuettes were made of soft stone or ivory, like the Venus of Hohle Fels, the oldest prehistoric sculpture on record, carbon dated to at least 35,000 years ago.  The Lady of Uruk, dated 3100 BC, is one of the earliest representations of the human face.  The Egyptian sphinxes were built around 2500 BC.  Ancient Greek sculpture emerged around 900 BC and sculptures of the Buddha began emerging from the 1st century AD in Northern India.

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band – richard serra

Richard Serra’s “Band” sculpture is something everyone should experience.

The huge scale and sheer mass of his meandering steel ribbon inside this placid room at the Broad Contemporary Art Museum is truly inspiring.  At 12 feet high and more than 70 feet long, it took two-and-a-half years to develop, and required the shaping of 200 tons of hot steel down to a single millimeter.

What I love most about it is the incredible deep rust color and lava-like patina.  It feels like rough stone, and when you sit inside the hollows, the inverted walls wrap you in a silent cone of sepia.  Art that envelopes you…amazing!