- About the Piece
- (click to view video)
- During the past months of
battling breast cancer metastasized to my liver, life and death
have been my companions embodied here by Mary and a skeleton who
flank me on each side.
All three figures stand with their arms in the Segan Semui-in
mudra. Mudras, symbolic positions in which the hands are held in
Hindu dancing and rituals, are common in Christian, Indian, and
Buddhist art. The right hands of the three figures are in the
Abhaya mudra: the Fear-Not mudra which shows good intentions, a
sign of peace and a way of showing that you mean no harm because
you carry no weapon in your hand. In the Buddhist tradition the
Buddha made this gesture after attaining enlightenment. The left
hands form the Varada mudra, or the welcome or Wish-Granting
mudra which signifies compassion, sincerity and the wish to
devote oneself to human salvation. Combined together, the Abhaya
and Varada mudras structure the Segan Semui-in mudra.
In my left hand I hold a container to catch the ascitis fluid
that collects in my abdomen and needs to be drained. In my right
hand I hold the chemotherapy and herceptin that enters my body
through a port that has been inserted into my chest. Fighting
lymphedema, my left arm is wrapped in a compression garment.
A friend of mine who paints icons says that every figure gets a
halo, even if they are not saints. Each of these figures has a
halo which lifts them from prose to poetry and highlights the
spiritual dimensions of the mundane.
Having a drain in my abdomen, undergoing long-term chemotherapy,
and numerous hospital stays, l strive to understand the gifts
that Life and Death afford me.