Sunday, June 11, 2017

Making Jizo's


They're a low production endeavor, maybe nine a week get made at a clay studio in Rowley. My studio mates were at first curious / perplexed that these little figures were all I was going to make. One person told me in good fun that I was a "one trick pony." Little does he know that really I am a "no trick pony." Over time though, they've embraced this repetitive, singular, activity and sometimes even ask where they have been placed recently..

That's the thing - the point of the Jizos - is for them to be placed in the world to be found by whomever. The scroll that they carry in their stomachs carries a brief introduction and a confirmation of ownership "Since you found me, I am yours. Take me home."

To a one - they've all been scooped up - all of them gone from where they've been left to wait. As to what's become of them after discovery - well - who knows.

Because it's the 21st century and because there is instagram, people are able to follow along with some aspects of The Jizo Project. I say 'some' because The Jizo Project is uniformly upbeat / positive / funny. It doesn't harbor any of the darkness and doubt of this rag.

The writing tone of The Jizo Project is deliberate. The personage of Jizo in Buddhist stories is shot through with optimism, no-matter-whatness, and cheerfulness. It would not do to have an instagram stream dedicated to O-Jizo-Sama and have it be a sad re-telling of the doubts and darkness everyone experiences every day.

Which is not to say that Jizo is a bright-sider - oh no - he knows shit from shinola. He knows how mightily fucked up humanity is and in turn how fucked up life on this planet is.. Despite this knowledge - which actually caused the Buddha a moment of despair - Jizo committed himself to save everyone everywhere before he attained enlightenment himself.

Whether one believes any of this Buddhist storytelling to be true is quite beside the point. The acts of making, placing, giving away, discovering, and adopting a little lumpish figure are true acts that in and of themselves are momentary breaks from the normal flow of things. And - that - that is what I wish for people who find them - a momentary cessation in the endless loop of wounds, worries and contagions.

On the face of things it's not very much at all - I know. But - some times you can't tell where things will lead you - and I feel lead - to a destination unknown - outcome uncertain.


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