Sunday, December 20, 2015

Paper Prayers and Paper Prayers

Sometime in the 80s, when Meg, Scott, and Jay were still ducklings following Dave and me around, we discovered Paper Prayers on display in Boston one holiday season. I came to learn that they were derived from the Japanese practice of offering colorfully decorated strips of paper as a prayer for good health and well being. A tradition began in Boston and has grown to involve many regional art galleries—participants are invited to created 4x12" strips featuring handcrafted media from collage, painting, and poetry to photography and computer-generated imagery. The strips are hung vertically on gallery walls, creating a vibrant presentation of artistic expression and a collective display of unity for a chosen cause, and individual prayers are purchased with a small donation.

We purchased Paper Prayers from Boston exhibits for several years before the paper prayers idea went "underground" in our lives, surfacing unconsciously in other creative acts of compassion from time to time (and probably serving as one impetus behind the years of my artwarmers business—a story for a different day) before coming back to life for me in recent months as I've painted bookmarks. These new paper prayers are prayers of listening, moments of tuning in and paying attention, a contemplative practice expressed through paint on paper.

Below, another paper prayer from our Very Scranton Christmas weekend, shown first as it traveled down to Pennsylvania taped to a library book cover, and then as it traveled home from Pennsylvania as a bookmark:

Paper Prayer 24
1.25x5", acrylic, ink, and wax pastel on watercolor paper
[not for sale]