The Gift of Time

Two women stroll among the walls of Halebid, built in the 9th century

Sharing experiences from travels is a bit like sharing dreams: The iconography and narrative are personal and not well suited for public discourse. So other than sharing the rudimentaries, my report on my time in India will be succinct.

A phrase or two from Mira Schor‘s juicy and very personal book, A Decade of Negative Thinking, captures much of what I am feeling now that I am back home: “I’ve wished that I could give my students and myself the gift of time, time to work or not work in the studio, and, more importantly, to forget about ART; time to just take a walk…”

That is what this trip to southern India was for me: time away from the studio, a hiatus in thinking about art making and the world we have created around that rarefied activity. Yes I took 2600 photographs which serve as a kind of quick capture sketchbook/scrapbook. But making art was not on my mind at all. In a culture that old and that confoundingly complex, stepping away from my life was a much better way to offer up an open, fertile, receptive spirit. The resonance is outside of language and still echoing.

Hindu shrine at the top of the Fort hill in Hyderabad

Hampi’s Vittala temple, known as the musical temple because striking the columnns produces musical tones

Inscription at Hampi

The exquisite Chitrangini Mahal (or Lotus Mahal) in the Zenana Enclosure, Hampi

Figures from the 12th century goparum at Belur which effortlessly incorporate images from the Kama Sutra

The lacey Chola temples at Thanjavur

Entrance to the Ekambaranathar temple in Kanchipuram

Enchanting and sacred Madurai, pilgrim site

Rajasthani pilgrims at Chidambaram

Meal time at the Children’s Aid Society in Hyderabad

Lord Gommateshwara, the world’s largest monolithic stone statue, at the Jain temple in Shravanabelagola

Students at Tiruchchirappalli (Trichy)

Hampi, from a distance

Sign to the pilgrimage site, Chamundi Hill in Mysore

Altar for Saraswati

11 Replies to “The Gift of Time”

  1. Welcome home! What wonderful photos you’ve shared here.

    My friend the poet John Siddique also recently went to India and spoke similarly about the experience.

  2. It is a place that grabs you. And I love being grabbed like that. Thanks for your comment Maureen, always so good to hear from you!

  3. Good vibrations! Welcome back. Namaste.

  4. Incredible photographs! I long to see India as it has always fascinated me so much. Thank you for sharing. Namaste.

  5. Deb, the temples are so intricate and massive, it seems impossible for them to have been built by men. And the women drape themselves in such vibrant color. The photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Great photos! And only another 2500+ left to see! Thanks for posting, Deborah. They are just beautiful. All the colors stand out so strongly against the masonry – really striking.

  7. Love the second photo in Hyderabad. Makes me want to do something….

  8. In their combination of casualness with an artful eye, these photos give me a better sense of India than anything I’ve ever seen before. Thank you, Deborah! And welcome back.

  9. Michael, Ed, Nancy, Di, OléVolta, Sally, thanks everyone for your kind words. It is a such a wild blend of visuality, sensuality, strangeness, disorder, chaos, groundedness, mystery. I love that I will never be able to figure it out.

  10. Wow, Deborah,just caught up with this post. Your images take my breath away. I agree with Michael – I’ve never seen such an exquisite balance of daily life amidst exquisite architectural sites – pictures I’ve seen before of India always seemed chaotic and depressing. You’ve captured magnificence!

  11. Beautiful, splendid…

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