Some part of me relaxes deeply & exults within the process of crafting highly detailed, intricate things, especially if they take a long time to execute, and embroidery is involved. It makes perfect sense to me that Yayoi Kusama engages in her dot-universe as a way of managing her anxiety, just as it makes sense to me that sailors on long crossings would carve scrimshaw. That's just the way it is.
A few years ago, my mother and I traveled in Bhutan together, and I found, to my great delight, that Bhutan is the Land of the Detail-Obsessed. So much there is beautifully made, crafted with precision, care, and humor. (From my perspective, this inclination must be connected to Bhutanese Gross National Happiness.) Here's a photograph from within Punakha Dzong, an amazing temple/palace where the Mother and Father rivers converge:
Every little bit of that facade is carved, painted, gilt, and tweezered together into an almost hallucinatory degree of beauty, which includes, to the left of the entrance door, this Cosmic Mandala:
(Actually, this is a reproduction that I commissioned from Pema Tshering in Paro, and which now lives with me in NH.) Summer can be a hectic and distracted time, so as an antidote and a joy, I've decided I want to embroider a version of the Punakha mandala this summer-into-fall, choosing to anchor myself in the elements' beautiful dance.
The first step on this path is to figure out what exactly is happening. Even though I've been living with this painting for years, I've never before tried understanding exactly how it's made. Now, I see there's something spirographish happening, and also something like a clock, with "hour" markers dividing the circular structure into 12 parts. I realize that each marker is the center of one of 12 circles whose perigee (in relation to the central figure) is the opposite marker. So, for example, the circle centered at 12:00 has its perigee at 6:00 and its apogee at a point equal to the distance between 12:00 and 6:00, somewhere out in the watery field.
There's a lot that's still mysterious: What explains the pattern of color alternation? Why are some color pairs far apart, while others are close? I know the answers will come as I need them, and for now, I know I have enough to get started.
108 Names of now