3. Red Yellow Instead of “working on” Rainbow Squared on Sunday, I found myself at Sierra Hot Springs with two dear friends. I had red yellow on my mind. So when I entered the geodesic dome that housed the hot pool, the first thing I noticed was the stained glass: a figure standing with open palms that are shooting out red and yellow beams 😳 I felt the immediate impulse to capture the moment with an animation. Alas, this hot spring being clothing optional, it was pretty strictly forbidden to take pictures. I didn’t even have my phone with me. Then I realized what I did have: my sketchbook! I sat on a bench sketching naked, so as to make it less sketchy to the other naked strangers I was gazing past. Eventually I got too cold and slipped back into the pool. Then it hit me: body power. Red is the body and physicality, yellow is power and action. I couldn’t use my phone to capture this moment, so I was using my body instead. My eyes, my mind, my hands, documenting what a machine couldn’t. Soaking in hot then cold water, testing the limits of my physical form. Red yellow. @daliao_art picked up my sketchbook so she could document the opposite side of the dome. Once we could use our phones again she continued to point out and document Red Yellow with me, spurring the first of hopefully many collaborations for Rainbow Squared (and with her). Red and yellow came up everywhere: 🌷🍽 Tulips, cups, and plates in the Philosophy Cafe. 🚗 🚩New Mexico’s flag, the state where my powerful companions are moving to next month. In the parking lot, a New Mexico license plate parked next to a Hyundai Santa Fe. 💇♀️ Red + yellow hair. 🧡 @autumnrose chooses to wear shades of orange (red + yellow) exclusively. 🍊Ingesting orange-flavored gummies that lent magic and silliness to the day. 🌭 On the way back to the Bay with my father and babes in tow, stopping at a restaurant with ketchup and mustard on every table. ⛽️ Filling up at a Shell station, their colors apt for an oil company: using earth blood for power. When I pay attention, red yellows keep coming, are still coming, more than I can capture. Synchronicity, or is it more like apophenia?
2. Red Orange. Today was Tu B’Shevat, the birthday of the trees on the Hebrew Calendar. The name means the 15th of Shevat, which is the current month. Technically the fiscal new year for the trees, the date was used to determine the age of fruit trees for purposes like tithing, sharing fruits with the priesthood and those not fortunate enough to have their own trees. In the 1600s, Kabbalists deepened the holiday by creating a Tu B’Shevat seder, a ritual meal similar to a Passover seder. At this seder, 4 kinds of fruit signify the 4 Worlds: 🍊First, a fruit with a hard, inedible peel and a soft, edible middle. This represents the world of Assiyah, the world of action, the physical. You could relate it to the element of Earth. 🍒 Second, a fruit with a soft, edible outside and a hard, inedible pit. This represents the world of Yetzirah, the world of formation, emotions, relationships, feelings. You could relate it to the element of Water. 🍐Third, a fruit that is soft and edible on the outside and inside. This represents the world of Briyah, the world of creation, thought, ideas, intellect. You could relate it to the element of Air. 🍃Fourth, something from a tree that isn’t edible at all but has a smell. This represents the world of Atzilut, the world of spirit and the spiritual. You could relate it to the element of Fire. Today I peel and eat this orange--this red orange, this blood orange--to honor the physical realm. The realm of Red. Thank you, trees, for nourishing us with your juicy flesh, giving of your body to shelter us, for breathing life into our animal forms. 🌳🌳🌳🌳🌳🌳🌳 This weekend I honored and celebrated the trees with the @jewitch.collective and @wilderness.torah, learning from amazing teachers like Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow, Rabbi Phyllis Ocean Berman, and @starhawk_spiral. May this Tu B’Shevat also invoke JeWitch values: “Defend the Earth and Pursue Justice for All.” May the trees planted today in Israel and Palestine respire liberation, justice, and peace.
1. Red Red. I’m not much of a sports fan, so yesterday when it came time to casually register a guess of who would win the Super Bowl I decided to choose based on color. Of course I had to look up the colors for Kansas City (I’m in the Bay Area so at least know those) and was shocked that they were also red and gold. So it would be red against red, huh. Red Red. And one of the teams with “49” in their name, 7 times 7. Alright, let’s start this year off then. Red Red could be an appropriate match for football anyway: physical, carnal, of the body, of the upper limits of the body, of mortality, of money and livelihood, of blood. Of our collective blood and bodies, of belongingness, of tribalism, of another’s body standing in for your own to represent the collective body: your city, your region, your nation. Bodies watching other bodies, watching men—overwhelmingly men of color—get their bodies damaged for sport. The actions of these bodies generating so much money for so many people. In this Super Bowl, both teams also demonstrate other ways America considers many of its bodies dispensable: a team literally named “Chiefs” playing on land brutally stolen from Native Americans against a team with a conspicuous absence of a player who took a stand and kneeled for black lives murdered by police brutality. American football contains so many stories. From teammates to fans, there is so much love circulated in, among, and around the NFL. And so football also demonstrates that love has many types and forms, ones that often intersect with its opposite.
2019 was Year 3 of Rainbow Squared. I knew I wanted to stick with animation, but couldn’t bring myself to commit to a particular medium for the whole year. So I experimented, rotating strategies by background color: Red—the basic fundamentals of life: crayons, markers, labels. Orange—fire and creation: burning construction paper. Yellow—the seat of power and choice, solar plexus: painting my pregnant belly. Green—leaves and love: photographing flora, sometimes arranging, sometimes documenting. Blue—water and dissemination: ink dropped into water. Purple—states of knowing and seeing: Google Image Search curated, sorted, and strung together. Black White—interconnectedness: rainbow made solid, future trash arranged in one giant pile and stop-motioned. And here I am, 2020 and another January, stalling to commit to the year’s strategy. I have some ideas. What would you like to see?
2018 was Year 2 of Rainbow Squared. I'm not sure when I made the decision to do a second year, but once I did, I knew there would be a third and a fourth and as many as it takes for me to figure out what’s going on here. Year 2 is when I changed my medium and started to consider this Art (with a capital A) instead of just a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, I am not that big of an art snob. But I am ultimately a conceptual artist (however craft-driven), which means that a practice focused on painting just didn't feel like my own. I love to paint, but honestly I am not that great at it ;-) So Year 2 I made stop-motion animations of future trash. What is future trash? Unless it is going to turn into dirt, most every object is future trash. Time scales vary, but an object’s relevance is always fleeting. My deep appreciation and celebration of an object’s color always mingles with regret for its means of production. Manufactured objects are available in a spectrum of colors like never before in history, made from materials and dyes that often have toxic and lasting impact. Manipulating these objects in space through stop-motion is an act of play and reckoning, honoring them in all their complicated glory and giving them new meaning. Plus, it’s just plain fun. The objects themselves are from my own environment or the one I happened to be in at the time, as well as from my personal Trash Altar. What is a Trash Altar? It is where I collect and curate notable or pleasing bits of otherwise detritus, things I can’t believe exist or can’t bear to throw away. Before we had our first kid, I had an actual altar set up where I would place and arrange these objects in a growing rainbow pile. Now they live in a very organized box, but I am making space to set them out and start arranging and accumulating again. The video here (second image) is my experiment in showing these in a full grid. To see the whole thing twitch and loop continuously, check out arainbowsquared.com 🌈🌈 Link in bio! Best viewed on desktop; let those gifs load.
2017 was Year 1 of Rainbow Squared, designed to maintain a regular artistic and spiritual practice as I learned how to balance work, parenthood, and self. A painting a week, done in the easily set-up and put-away medium of watercolor. A piece of writing a week, done on a paper in a notebook reflecting on the intersection of the colors and my life at the moment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I assigned each color three meanings based on its presence in the physical world, its traditional association in the Hindu chakra system, and the seven values my partner and I used as the seven blessings for our wedding. Before each painting I sat in meditation reflecting on these meanings. Then I drew a series of cards from a few decks, including Rider Waite Tarot, @rebekaherevstudio’s Moon Angels deck, and then @wren_aissance’s Dark Days Tarot. Then I wrote an aphorism of sorts based on those reflections and tools. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I did this in private (or at least unpublicized) because the process was personal. Though it intersected with current events (drawing The Tower the week that Trump was elected), it wasn’t necessarily for anyone else. As a practicing and constantly wrestling Jew, I craft ritual to sanctify time. And so it was fittingly Jewish that this personal ritual ultimately also has space for the communal. Color as a symbol set is more immediately accessible and open than oracle systems that use fixed archetypes, with meanings that can extend beyond any one set of interpretations. Could this eventually be a system others use and build with me?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Conjuring divinatory meanings felt and still feels scary, audacious even. I want to approach the work with respect, especially in regards to using wisdom from frameworks that aren’t of my own culture. I want to be patient. I figured if I let this system unfold slowly over time I could be in service to it rather than author it. Now I know that I have to do both (continued)