When I imagine the meditative seat, what comes to mind is a human body sitting cross-legged on the ground. What if the body itself—the stuff of us—wasn’t tangible or visible? What would we be?
In her new exhibit, Grounded, artist and sculptor Heather Cox invites us to consider the traditional meditative seat from a variety of perspectives. Much like the practice of meditation itself, the pieces in the exhibit invite us to explore the interface between form and space, inside and outside, familiar and unfamiliar. YogaCity NYC’s Lauren Krauze spoke with Cox to find out why she did it and what she wants us to get from it.
The show is only up until April 26, so get there soon!
Lauren Krauze: The exhibit’s called Grounded. Why did you choose that?
Heather Cox: I was thinking of the meditative space and all the different meanings of the word “grounded.” I pictured the way a tree is grounded, in terms of the trunk and roots—it has a physical connection that goes deep into the earth. I also wanted to explore the concept of mental grounding. That’s somewhere I go very quickly, especially in the context of the attempts we make just to get through each day.
LK: You state that “Dimensional drawings are not just lines; they’re material with dimensions.” Why did you create these lines in the way that you did?
HC: In yoga and meditation, we often scan the body—top to bottom, bottom to top, in to out. Imagine yourself doing a scan and finding points of intersection in the physical body. That’s what these lines are. The lines here recreate those natural delineations.
LK: If visitors to Grounded aren’t familiar with the practice of meditation, what do you
hope they will learn from your art?
HC: If people don’t see a body—if they see an abstract form—I’m fine with that. I’m curious to find out what people recognize when they look at these shapes. We’re so hardwired to recognize certain parts of the body—faces and eyes, especially. Some people will see those types of things. We also have this tendency to look at edges. I wonder how much we can carve away and still find a figure that’s recognizable, or a figure that’s embodied, in some way.
Others have told me that, when they look at these lines, they see orbits and pathways of electrons. So whether or not people see or understand this as the shape of a body isn’t important. I’m interested in the abstract form as well.
LK: What kind of material do you use?
HC: The pieces on the wall are made of laser cut black acrylic. They are life-size and drawn both from my own body and MRI scans of a standing form. The large figure on the floor is made of hand-cut, closed-cell neoprene sponge rubber. I chose it because I wanted something soft that I could easily cut, and it's also shock absorbent—I find the inner grounding of our bodies and emotions to be very shock absorbent. As it turns out, the stuff of us is very soft and malleable.
LK: There are so many different shapes that the body can take in yoga or meditation. Why did you focus on the seat?
HC: I went to a Montessori school and we always used to sit on the floor. I loved that! It always felt comfortable for me to be seated on the ground.
LK: You designed the pieces so that the viewer has somewhat of an aerial view of the form. Was that intentional?
HC: The pieces invite us to have a God’s eye view, or a bird’s eye view, of the seated form. Think about mapping programs these days, like Google Maps. When we look at maps, we’re above the content of the map, so there’s a surveillance aspect. Perspective is extraordinarily valuable.
LK: Some people might view your art and say, “I’ve never tried that. Tell me where to start.” What would you say?
HC: That would be amazing! I think there are so many opportunities to learn meditation right here in town, and there are so many ways of doing it. Shop around, see what feels right. There’s not one way to practice meditation and it really depends on the person. My recommendation is to do some active exploring.