Deborah J. Haynes


About My Art

2023 painting backlit by sun, "The Power of Speech"

During the past 15 years my art has become more explicitly Buddhist in focus. I call this “Dharma Art," following the title of an important book published posthumuously by Chögyam Trungpa in 1996. I learned about Trungpa Rinpoche's ideas from dancer Barbara Dilley and from artists Robert Spellman and Joan Anderson. As Chögyam Trungpa put it in a 1974 letter, “The term dharma art does not mean art depicting Buddhist symbols or ideas, such as the Wheel of Life or the story of Gautama Buddha. Rather, dharma art refers to art that springs from a certain state of mind on the part of the artist that could be called the meditative state. It is an attitude of directness and unselfconsciousness in one’s creative work“ (Dharma Art, 1). As will be clear on these web pages, some of my own Dharma art is explicitly Buddhist, using images and symbols drawn from Buddhist iconography and methods such as tigse (a form of drawing using particular geometric principles and measurements) and tsakli (from a tradition of handheld initiation cards). More generally, I have been working in a contemplative mode for a long time. Now, what I create directly reflects my meditative practices.

I am a multi-disciplinary conceptual artist. Like my writing, my visual art is driven by ideas rather than commitments to particular subjects or media. Over the past few decades, I have created rituals, performances, installations, handbound books, mixed-media drawings and paintings, and marble sculpture, primarily with hand-carved texts. I spent years building a contemplative garden in Jamestown, Colorado. And until 2013, I conceptualized my studio practice around two interrelated creative processes: work on that one-acre parcel of land in Jamestown and two mixed-media drawing series. Work on the site, Ivydell, concluded in October 2015. As documented in my blog entries, following the devastating floods of September 2013 I spent over two years repairing and rebuilding both the structures and the site itself. All of my art prior to 2006 was destroyed in the flood. 

Since 2006, I have worked on several mixed media drawing series. “Marking Time” includes scrolls and drawings done over periods ranging from two weeks to 20 months, and they function simultaneously as both maps and calendars. Using both recognizable symbols, texts, and my own iconographic language, I would literally give form to the experiences of space, place, and time. “Meditations on Impermanence” includes larger drawings up to 38” x 68”, as well as small studies that explore daily experience, the dying process, and death itself. This work is inspired by meditation practice, volunteer work with hospice, and ongoing caregiving.

Pictured above is part of a 90" x 40" painting that is still underway. 

June 2023

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