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Flowing Meditation: Dissolving My Daughter Into Water

Posted: 03/21/2012 11:27 am

About a month ago, to help shed light on the process I used to create an image of my daughter taking the form of a waterfall, I uploaded a video which deconstructed the image by animating the thousands of layers that comprise it. I was surprised at how this seemed to strike a chord, as it has been loaded nearly a million times.

REBIRTH of GAEA -- Flowing Meditation from Jesse Michael Newman on Vimeo.

While the video helps explain how it was created, one of the most frequent questions I've gotten has been why it was created. What's the back story?

I started the project about six years ago as a way to show my support for my eldest daughter's deep interests in the environment and Greek mythology by depicting her as Gaea, Goddess of Earth. The waterfall section, "Flowing Meditation," is a small part of a much, much larger tapestry of interwoven vignettes -- some based on ancient narratives and others on personal experience -- called Rebirth of Gaea.

Until recently, I made a living doing special effects for commercials. Not only did this allow me to collaborate with and learn from some fantastically gifted colleagues, but it gave me access to the most advanced tools available to an artist in the modern era. Several years ago, I set aside a few weeks to complete Rebirth of Gaea. At that point, I knew practically nothing of Greek mythology. As I began to discover for myself the beauty and depth of this ancient cosmology, my mind was on fire with vivid imagery. Absorbed in the creative process, I started experiencing moments of complete bliss that resonated beautifully within me. I became consumed, captivated. As the scope of the project grew, I began to recognize Rebirth of Gaea as a unique opportunity to reach my full artistic potential.

Also, I started having more kids. How could I leave them out? And besides, they seemed to dovetail perfectly with other aspects of the story I was attempting to convey. I started to realize that it wouldn't make sense to use the same person to portray both Gaea and the plethora of other figures. So I enlisted my wife, other family members and friends to depict Aphrodite, Daphne, Eos, Cronos, the Curetes, etc. My son became Eros, the God of Love, and my little girl became Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance. My wife is Chaos -- which, if you're unfamiliar with Greek mythology like I was, isn't a state of disorder but the vacant and infinite space out of which the gods, men and all things arose.

Like all of my other personal projects, I presumed this piece would never see the light of day outside the confines of my home. But I was caught off guard by the intense interest shown from a handful of friends who saw what I was doing -- feedback that encouraged me to share it and make it available to others. To that end, the first time I'll be displaying any of my artwork publicly will be at the International Art Expo this week in Manhattan. If you're interested in seeing Rebirth of Gaea, come over to Pier 92, Thursday through Sunday. I'll be at booth 1111.

Oh, and by the way, my wife doesn't know yet that she's even a part of this project. Unless she reads this blog first, she'll be quite surprised when she arrives and sees the final piece.