Hello friends, greetings from Masa Rasa Studios and the Cornfield. Today is the autumnal equinox, summer is behind us and fall begins. This is the season for gathering harvests, filling silos, baking pumpkin pies, and giving thanks . . . bringing old work to a close and maybe planting a new crop or two. With the coming of fall weather temperatures have dropped, yet recently the digital mercury registered record highs here in Santa Rosa, CA. At one point the temperature was above 108˚ for several days, topping out at 118˚F. Yes. I can’t recall ever experiencing such heat, except during a stay in India years ago. It seems the heat of India has come to California, which is all the more true from the perspective of Masa Rasa. In this blog I want to share a few brief thoughts about the kinship of India and America, along with images of my studio work and the Cornfield project . . . and I’ve brought along my begging bowl to hopefully fill with the curious currency called money.
First, and by way of introduction to my studio work and the Cornfield project, let me first provide some historical perspective on maize and the relationship of India and America. It’s true that Native Americans were initially referred to as ‘Indians’ by Columbus and his gang, moored in the mistaken belief that they had sailed halfway across the globe to their intended destination - India. Therefore the inhabitants of the land were ipso facto ‘Indians,’ a name that stuck and remains controversial to this day.
Despite the darker intentions of the new colonists, the native peoples of America were generally peaceful and shared many things with the Europeans, including their most cherished food source - maize. Maize originated in Mexico over 6,000 years ago, and there is recent scholarly evidence* claiming that maize was introduced to India centuries before Columbus ‘discovered America.’ He brought maize back to Europe, which then spread across the continent and into Asia. . . . or so the story goes. This new research suggests that the indigenous peoples of the American continent had contact with the Far East long before the Europeans showed up. That’s exciting, and while it may make some historians spit up their corn chowder, others will rmarvel at the news. In any event, it’s been a long global journey for maize, most likely a path from America to India, on to Europe, finally settling in Santa Rosa, California, at Masa Rasa Studios. Maize gets around . . .
Indian temple Goddess holding an ear of maize, circa 900 AD
The cultural elements of the American-Indian connection gave rise to creating the studio name Masa Rasa. The meaning is this: ‘Masa’ is Spanish for ‘dough,’ a nourishing staple food made from maize, and a word of both European and American origin. ‘Rasa,’ at it’s deepest root, is the Indian Sanskrit word for ‘the nectar of life.’ You could even say, ‘life as nectar.’ Rasa is the natural and blissful feeling of the heart, the essence of experience, when all our burdens are set aside. You could call it love. I like that. The art of Cornfield, the multimedia project you will find on the Masa Rasa website, is an expression of both those understandings, Masa and Rasa, weaving the wisdom of the Great Beings of the East into a multimedia tapestry that also finds inspiration and sustenance in Western roots. Native Americans consider maize sacred, a gift from the Gods, from Mother Earth. In Cornfield sacred maize is used as a symbol for Universal Consciousness, one reason being that corn is something nearly everyone enjoys, often in the form of Masa. And meditation on the Rasa of life, on what nourishes us in spirit, comes naturally to every human being. Both are at the heart of Cornfield. Masa Rasa.
Cornfield is a maize-filled casserole God popped into the oven of my mind years ago, and set the controls to ‘Time Is An Illusion.’ It continues to bake. So I’ve brought my begging bowl to ask for your financial support to complete this work. To that end, I’ve created a campaign page on the crowd funding website Patreon in an effort to summon enough support to keep me continuously busy in the studio for the next year, without the burden of having to frequently stop work and come up with the money to keep the studio doors open. I want to finish this work, and I’ll trade you some corn for some cash.
You are welcome to help by being be part of this process. The end result will be a printed volume showcasing and discussing the work and experiences that have gone into Cornfield, followed with a public showing of the many paintings, prints, and sculpture created over the years. Whatever is left over will be composted, which could become a new art movement . . . compost modern . . . unless funding becomes available to build the entire exhibit as envisioned. Then we plant anew.
Digital rendering of Cornfield - An Artstory (that’s you in the center)
If you decide to become a Patron, there are many levels of support to choose from and there are several things from the studio that I offer in exchange. You will find them listed on Patreon as ‘rewards.’ Recurring pledges on Patreon start as low as $1 per month and go up from there . . . $3, $5, $10, $50 . . . and more. For most of the donation options I'm offering studio work and other perks in return for you contribution, an exchange* in tangibles and in spirit. So when you have a moment, go to the Patreon page to read about the project, and see a video of me explaining what I'm doing . . . which makes the old saying "one picture worth a thousand words" seem all the more true. In some circles it's been said that to explain one's art is to insult one's audience. No worries, believe me this work is beyond explanation.
California weather now prevails and all is well here at Masa Rasa Studios. I'm looking forward to an Indian summer. Thanks for giving this work a look, and a special thanks to those who have contributed their well-earned money. I guarantee your next bite into an ear of fresh buttered corn will make you smile :) Here’s to planting a seed kernel in fertile ground and seeing what happens. Who knows, maybe Cornfield will grow to be a blow against the forces of environmental degradation, and shine a light on The Taboo, And Joy, Of Knowing Who You Are.
With love and respect,
* Maize in India Carl Johannessen University of Oregon, Geography, Emeritus