Spirituality and The Great Outdoors
The outdoors and spirituality has always been intertwined throughout human history. The selected photos are, in my opinion, good examples of this relationship. It’s kinda hard to make sense of a lot of post-modern art; some of these aren’t of that style, the latter ones most definitely are.
Lisa Fifield is a Chinese-Native American artist who paints primarily Native American themes. Native art often focuses on the connection between humans and nature, something often lost in modern society. She grew up in Washington and was greatly influenced by the Wounded Knee Tragedy. This inspired her to distrust Western expansion and she began to learn about Native American history as well as her own ancestry. Her work blends humans and nature, often literally, in an expression of culture, heritage, and tradition.(2)
Birch Tree Woman
Birch Tree Woman (date and place of origin unknown) is just as it sounds, a woman who is also a tree. Her leaves are bright green and healthy, providing protection for birds from the weather in the background. The tree-lady has a ring of leaves around her head, not unlike halos from earlier era religious paintings.
Dancing of the Elk Clan Women
Dancing of the Elk Clan Woman depicts a group of women dancing and animals dancing with them, causing the animals and people to fly. While fairly ridiculous, it symbolizes a hope for unity between humans and animals. The Natives desire to coexist peacefully with animals and respect them greatly for what they give to humans.
Mariko Mori is a Japanese artist who specializes in naturalistic abstract paintings that are digitally created. She grew up in Japan and went to fashion school, where she developed her artistic style as a model. She dislikes pop culture and instead chooses to create bizarre, peaceful worlds in which the viewer can get lost. She uses giant pieces of special glass (10′ by 20′) to display her digitally created artwork. She travels around the world photographing landscapes and photoshops objects and often herself into the photos in some sort of thematic dress (2).
Kumano (1998, place of origin unknown) depicts a priest and a dancer in some sort of ceremony. There is a strikingly red bridge and a bright blue temple in the background, as well as a transparent image of a waterfall. Ceremonies often take place outside to bring people in better harmony with nature. This photo has an almost mystical feel to it, the objects and people in the picture quite don’t seem to belong because of their bright colors contrasting the foliage, but their faded appearance makes the mind question whether they are even there at all or if they have always been there.
This photo, Dream Temple (view from the Royal Academy of Arts installation, 1999) is of a white temple on sand. The temple is almost entirely made of glass that, using science, is both opaque and transparent depending on if there is a human behind it. It is the only piece selected that is not outside, but as it is a transparent temple it seems it was designed to be viewed out of, likely somewhere solitary for introspection.
This photo caught my eye because of the small mountains and layers of rock, but it actually is supposed to represent hope for the Tibetan people who are still under control by the Chinese Government. The women levitating off the ground are dressed in traditional Tibetan Buddhist garb and also happen to be on fire. Suicide by fire has been an uncommon extreme act of protest, showing the person would rather die a horrible death than willingly go on the way things are. This is shot in the Gobi Desert, part of northern China. The floating rainbow person is supposed to represent hope and is floating higher than the rest. The artist Mariko Mori used her own image for these five people.
Pure Land (1998, place of origin unknown) depicts the artist Mori floating as a Shinto goddess with weird alien musicians floating on bubbles and playing instruments around her and a strange house/spaceship in the background. I honestly have no idea what this painting is supposed to represent but it is surprisingly peaceful, considering the strange nature of the work. A lotus flower can be seen floating on the lake, which is in fact the Dead Sea.