Hand’s Bloom, 2009.
Stone (unknown, possibly Alabaster),13” x 6 ¼” x 4 ¾”.
Martin-Mullen Art Gallery,
State University of New York College at Oneonta.
The sculpture presents a rough hand, almost claw-like that emanates a “life force” evoking the purity and enlightenment of a lotus flower. From its organic beginnings, Hand’s Bloom evolves into a biomorphic Surrealist form resonating with a refined beauty and eloquence that captivates the viewer. The elongated shadows cast by the work express the flow of energy radiating from the stone. With each individually carved finger, Ms. Kayserian invites the spectator to partake in the essence of Hand’s Bloom.
The dichotomy of the composition’s surface relates to samsara – the Buddhist cycle of rebirth. As the lotus grows out of the still water and mud of the pond, it leaves the mud (worldly existence) behind to emerge straight toward the sky, appear clean on the surface (purity), and blossoms into a beautiful flower (enlightenment). The flower opens its petals to catch the warm sun rays, reveals its beauty and purity, and shares its fragrance with the world. Hand’s Bloom was inspired by the words of Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the founder of Buddhism (563-483 B.C.): “As a lotus flower is
born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so I, born
in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the
world.” Carved out of the traditions of Buddhism, Hand’s Bloom is rich with its iconography.
The sculpture references mudras, the Sanskrit word for the stylized hand gestures (literally a sign or a seal) depicted in Buddhist art. Each mudra expresses a meaning and is often used as a symbolic gesture in rituals and meditation. Kayserian’s Hand’s Bloom correlates to Bhumisparsha Mudra, or a gesture of touching the earth. “The mudra recalls the historical Buddha’s path to enlightenment, when he asked the earth to bear witness to his worthiness to become a Buddha.” The sculpted hand is a visualization of the tenacity associated with the historical Buddha.
Beyond the symbolic representation, the artist was affected by the Buddhist themed music and music videos of the three time Grammy Award winning progressive metal band Tool – particularly the group’s videos for the singles “Vicarious” (the first computer-generated imagery), “Parabola” and the innovative album art of Alex Grey. This California rock band has been exploring alternative music since 1990. Tool was described by Patrick Donovan, chief music writer of The Age as, "The thinking person's metal band – cerebral and visceral, soft and heavy, melodic and abrasive, tender and brutal, familiar and strange, western and eastern, beautiful and ugly, taut yet sprawling and epic, they are a tangle of contradictions." Alex Grey (born 1953) is an American artist specializing in spiritual and visionary art often associated with New Age. His artwork is featured on Tool’s “Lateralus” album and forms the stage design – massive reproductions of the album’s artwork – for the band’s corresponding tour. Grey’s artistry is the creative force behind the computer-generated imagery for “Vicarious.”
Kayserian’s preliminary design was a lotus blossom, but the shape of the raw stone developed into Hand’s Bloom. She carved an “ugly” hand to mimic the murky pond waters of existence. Kayserian wanted the viewer to be repulsed by the abrasive digits and drawn to the soft, rounded, smooth texture and pristine qualities of the “bloom” – from worldly existence to purity and enlightenment. The artist “hoped the observer would see the shapes and want to touch them.” She chose to leave the hand part of the sculpture grossly chiseled and unpolished yielding “a dusty, whitish-gray color” contributing to the unattractive qualities and reflecting “the beautiful flower growing out of a disgusting pond.” She was delighted when the highly polished shapes revealed this explosion of color – “swirls of reds, greens and browns with stripes and specks of crystal” – in effect, a spectrum of energy. The piece was executed by hand using a sculpting hammer and chisel in her 2009 fall semester Sculpture I class; it was Kayserian’s first work completed in stone. Hand’s Bloom fulfilled the assignment to complete a sculpture and explore the subtractive method by carving forms and spaces in stone with emphasis on the positive and negative form, as well as on the surface qualities of the materials. The sculpture is a beautiful means of bringing subtle, inner realities to a focus in outward expression.
The artist is a senior Computer Arts major at the State University of New York College at Oneonta. After graduation in May, 2010, Kayserian will begin an internship in New York City at Motion Capture NYC where she will use motion capture technology for their parent company, VLC Global. She hopes to pursue a career in this field and eventually work in film or television.
Richard A. Gard, Buddhism. Great religions of modern man. New York: G. Braziller, 1961, 75 – 81.
Ibid., 84 -87.
Richard A. Gard, Buddhism. Great Religions of Modern Man. New York: G. Braziller, 1961, 79 – 81.
Ibid., 87 – 95.
Patrick Donovan, Music Reviews, Fairfax Digital, Sydney, Australia, 1991, http:www.theage.com.au, 23 April, 2010.
Alex Grey, alexgrey.com, MicroCoSM Gallery, New York, 1999, http://www.alexgrey.com, 24 April, 2010.
Interview with the Artist, April 22, 2010.
Interview with the Artist, April 22, 2010.
Syllabus, Sculpture I.