Coming back to the Mainland after one of my Hawaiʻi trips, I immediately began work on The Waikīkī Series. The work required that I make various positive and negative stencils out of matboard and I spent all of Great Lent that year slowly cutting them out! I tend to work in series, so that means that I usually work on several pieces at the same time. That way no one piece becomes too precious for me in case I screw it up!
When ready to work I place sheets of Lenox paper down on the floor. If I’m using a negative stencil which shows the opening resulting from whatever I cut away, I place it on the paper and make sure all the rest of the paper is covered with matboard so the subsequent spraying doesn’t get anywhere I don’t want it. If I’m using a positive stencil then I place onto the paper the piece I had cut out and construct a kind of box around it with matboard. When all is ready I then dilute some fluid acrylic paints, pour a color in a small,thin jar and begin blowing through a mouth atomizer to make a fine spray of color going onto the paper. Once the color dries I take off all stencils and matboard and began again for the next color or overlay of color.
I have often been asked why I made this series. Quite frankly, when I returned from that trip I was unwilling to let go of Hawaiʻi, even if that meant constructing it right here in Rincon, Georgia! Remembering the feeling of the Tradewinds on my skin, I yearned for the sensuality of Hawaiʻi‘s forms and colors. The next question that I usually am asked is “How do you know what you want to do?” The answer is that over the years I have come to recognize and hear a small stirring deep within myself almost like a voice, which gets my attention and to which I need to listen. No doubt this awareness comes out of my monastic experience in regard to obedience.
From a spiritual point of view obedience is not about being a robot or about never exercising one’s will. Rather, obedience is an inner alert listening, a willingness to hear and be open to what is heard. An inner orientation of obedience is crucial for taking personal responsibility for one’s maturation. The Divine is always speaking through the reality around us and it is our job to learn how to listen in order that we might hear what is being said. So, what did I hear in Hawaiʻi that resulted in The Waikīkī Series? I heard happiness. I heard hula. I heard color. I heard home.