Image-making was for centuries a sacred act. It still is in cultures that keep these traditions alive. The following was written by someone who knew this. I no longer know who wrote it. I have kept it for almost 30 years, referring back to it many times like a touchstone for my own sensibilities. It reminds me of what real image-making is about; and it sums up my own quest in the area of making images.
East Indian aesthetics sees art in reverse from the way we do. We think that an artist has a brilliant idea and then independently executes that idea. But the creation of a Buddha icon, for example, is thought of as the Absolute descending into the world. The vision in the mind of the artist is the first stage of the descent. Then, using susceptible material in the relative world (paint, paper, clay), the Absolute impresses itself as form.
Meditation on this icon reverses that process. The viewer sees the form and then recreates the vision through the imagery. When it is realized that the image in the mind is not itself an object, the resulting experience - that is, of identifying with the immaterial -recreates the Absolute.
At that point, neither the icon nor the vision are required. The viewer is the Buddha.
The time is ripe for renewing this quest in my own way.
[For a brief description of the above image, please click here.]