Sunday, June 2, 2013

A surprise visit to my studio by former United Nations photojournalist John Isaac

I was standing in the hallway when a man I recognized but never met asked me for directions. I smiled and said, "I know who you are!" As I was directing him down the hall, I caught him looking over my shoulder and through the opened door to my studio. "Is that your work?" Yes, I replied. "Can I take a look?" I swept my door open wide and welcomed him in.

I stood there holding my breath and watching silently as he moved from one mandala to the next, occasionally pausing to look deeply at a particular piece. *John Isaac is an Indian born, award winning photographer who worked 30 years as a photo journalist for the United Nations and who has travelled to over 120 countries. He most recently has been photographing tigers and other indigenous wildlife found in his native India.

He remarked on my patience to do such detailed work and I told him that my creating them was part of my meditative practice. He asked if I had traveled to India or Tibet and I told him that everything I knew about mandalas had come through books and the internet. He told me that I must travel to Bhutan  - that the experience would be life-changing for me.

He was carrying a guitar and I mentioned that I play drums. When he asked what kind, I told him that I knew a little bit about all kinds of world percussion and we briefly discussed the language of the tabla (a specific kind of drums from Northern India) which I learned just a smidge about when I took classes from Glen Velez and former Rusted Root percussionist Jim DiSpirito. (da gin na tinaka dhi nah...)

It was an honor to have him visit my studio and I was humbled by his compliments. He seemed particularly drawn to the piece over his right shoulder "Change is a Sure Thing" which includes the mantra Om Gum Ganapatayei Namaha, a Hindu devotional to Ganesh.

*I can't seem to find a current website for John and opted instead to link to a wonderful article that talks about John's integrity as a photojournalist - following his mother's advice, “Human dignity is more important than Pulitzer Prize-winning.” You can also find John on Facebook. 

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