Many books and articles have been written about Tara. I will mention only a few aspects that especially influenced my paintings. Tara has been a presence in Hindu and Buddhist thinking for centuries. She is sometimes thought of as a deity, a Buddha or a Bodhisattva (an enlightened human filled with compassion). The word Tara is Sanskrit; in Tibetan it is Drolma. Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism place a strong emphasis on her. In different traditions she comes in varied numbers and colors. I was especially fascinated by the linking of colors to different emotional qualities. It eventually occurred to me that from psychological perspectives, including Jungian, studying all these Taras could help an individual reflect on some of the more submerged ones their personal experience.
One day when I was doing life drawing at Hipbone studio, the skilled female model seemed to be doing goddess poses to me. With some trepidation I asked her afterwards if that might be possible… Her eyes widened, and she told me that she was part of a group that met monthly to discuss a goddess that they had been learning about that month. She offered to pose more for me, which I happily accepted.
Additionally, through both an unexpected meeting at the Chinese Garden in Portland and through my Tibetan Buddhist poet collaborator, Connee Pike, I became acquainted with Prajwal Ratna Vajracharya. He established Dance Mandal, Foundation for Sacred Buddhist Arts of Nepal (link). I have seen several of his troupe’s performances and been deeply moved by them. In sacred dances they embody the qualities of various deities, including Tara.
My paintings are in no way a part of the traditions briefly described above. Each of these traditions is enhanced by specific art. I am merely, but gratefully, influenced by them. They have deepened my understanding of Jung’s concept of the shadow.