enlightenment is a series of mixed-media sculptures inspired by eastern philosophy and mythology. Each sculpture is created with found deer or elk bones that were cleaned and painted, as well as electrical light cords. The sculpture is assembled as an erect golden spine with light emanating through its core, culminating in a fabric lotus flower.
The transformation of discarded animal skeletons into precious objects highlights the philosophy of reincarnation central to eastern spiritual traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. A light cord represents life energy, specifically kundalini. Described as a reservoir of spiritual energy located at the base of the spine, it is believed that when activated, kundalini surges up the spinal channel, ultimately reaching the crown of the head, and merging with the divine or infinite consciousness. This is often visualized as the unfolding of a thousand-petal lotus, which has come to symbolize spiritual realization or enlightenment, and in Buddhism specifically, wisdom comprehending the ultimate nature of reality.
Also in Buddhism, the deer is viewed as the most compassionate of all creatures. Combining the bones of a deer with a lotus flower references the union of compassion and wisdom or the union of an open heart and mind, the focus of the Buddhist practitioner. The intention behind this union is to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.