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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
73 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Charmion von Wiegand was a pioneer in her time. Born at the end of the nineteenth century, she wrote art criticism and sought the transparent spirit behind the forms. Drawn to Theosophy and its hybrid of Asian and ancient Middle Eastern religions, she shared this fascination with her friend Piet Mondrian. He was also seeking the shapes that would crystallize the invisible harmonies of the spirit. In 1949, sculp- tor Ibram Lassaw, a passionate student of Asian religions, introduced her to the Taoist meditation manual The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life, according to Sanford Biggers Lotus, 2007 Hand-etched glass, steel Installation at Grand Arts, 2007 Courtesy of the artist and Michael Klein Arts Theaster Gates Breathing, 2010 Video still Courtesy of the artist Meanwhile, this floor of the Rubin Museum hums with wordless songs of prayer. In his video Breathing, Theaster Gates shows us a beautiful young black woman with dangling black earrings and a crop of coiled black hair. With the grace of a dancer, she puts her hands together and begins reciting namu myoho renge kyo, the mantra of Nichiren Buddhism. The words flow into a seamless hum. The woman’s voice retreats as other black singers come forward, humming the familiar harmonies of gospel music. Christian, Buddhist—the names dissolve. What’s left is love and praise, formlessness and joy.