The Art of Prayer
Feature Artist: Paul Evan Glenn
Work Space: 2150 Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA
A Note from the Artist:
During early adolescence, I filled many coloring books with elaborate geometric patterns and these now reappear in my paintings. Throughout childhood, Judaism was an important part of my daily life. In my early 20’s I embraced being an openly gay man, which came into direct conflict with my family, community and religion. I had to build a new model of religion, faith and prayer that wasn’t contrary to my spiritual beliefs. Our society is still struggling to completely accept gay people, especially in organized religion. My spiritual practice is not a struggle. It is essential to my well being as it is to millions of people across the world. As a gay man, I accept I am of God, and I do not want to be regarded by others as God’s reject.
My sources come from many religions - the Buddhist lotus leaf, the Christian cross, a Jewish Torah, an Islamic mosque, and so on. I believe that most of the essential teachings of our world’s religion can include the spiritual life of being an openly gay person. The decorative pages of texts, tapestries, tiles in decorative religious buildings, stained glass and many other religious objects and images influence my work. Each piece I make has its own order and is drawn out like a prayer in a religious service with particular rituals. Each bowl I make is hammered in concentric circles with very similar steady and consistent hammering intensity until it forms the shape I desire.
This sense of drawing as a prayer is seen in my daily exercise of “mark making”. Each mark I make reminds me that I must live in the present, which is the most joyous and powerful way of living. It is very easy to live in fear of the future and regret the past.
My “mark making” body of work is drawn from ancient South and Central American Indian ceramic designs, carpets and textiles. In 2008 I saw Mark Grotjahn’s exhibition at the Whitney Museum in New York.. I was mesmerized by his use of colored pencil, and knew I had to experiment with it. That was the beginning of my Indian prayer series. Each work has an under drawing, and each work answers an instinctive need to make woven fabrics and carpets on canvas. The ultimate goal of my work is create a prayer space or temple for people to visit. In the end, as these are drawn, painted or hammered they create an extended prayer within me and on the paper or metal.