Gabryel Harrison's stunning Learn the Flowers exhibition closes at the end of this week. (June 3rd) Make sure to come along to see her stunning floral and braille pieces. Below you will find the last part of the Essay that was written by Pennylane Shen to commemorate the show. It gives great insight into the Braille pieces.


The Practice of Cultivating Beauty

On Gabryel Harrison’s Collection Learn the Flowers by Pennylane Shen

The Tantra series (of Compassion, of Eternity, of Union, and of Origin) is inspired by the traditional Indian and Tibetan meditative process, whereby intense concentration is placed on pictorial shapes in order to expand one's consciousness. Working closely with these images and in regular practice of this spiritual exercise herself, the result of Harrison’s paintings evokes a similar attention to the energy found in shapes.
Looking back into the rich history of abstract painting, it seems that Harrison is contributing to a greater conversation, one that has been occurring for the past century. Perhaps, she is simply tapping into a frequency regarding the power of absolute forms, a dialogue Rothko engaged in, and Kandinsky before him. 

Tantra of Eternity, Gabryel Harrison, 2012
Using Braille text as a platform in the Tantra pieces is not a new technique for Harrison. Over time, she has gradually incorporated such text into her repertoire of techniques. A skilled poet, Harrison’s original words make up the poetry translated to Braille in this series. 

Harrison’s interest in Braille as both a texture and a language lies in its ability to provide another means of interpreting the world. Another layer to the unraveling rose; it is a hidden message beneath the skin of one’s fingers and requires a certain intimacy to encrypt its meaning.

Using Braille as a metaphor for internal blindness, we can relate its use to grander ideas; the depreciation of physical communication and self-awareness found within our society. In many respects “we view the lives of others more clearly than we view our own” (Harrison). We are all fumbling around in the dark, wading through noise and distraction in an effort to find meaning or to find one another.  

Humankind's technological rat race of evolution has become counterintuitive and in many aspects has regressed, undermining nature's fine balance. The wantonness of advancement has resulted in a culture that rewards mass production, consumerism and progress, cultivating greed and isolation. Echoing the sobering words of Albert Einstein nearly a century ago, our culture has created a society that honours the "faithful servant (the rational mind)" and forgotten "the sacred gift (the intuitive mind)".

Spring Passion, Gabryel Harrison, 2012

The hope of Learn the Flowers is to become still in the presence of beauty and to approach it with a kind of reverence. Encouraging a meaningful interaction with the artwork, Harrison’s aim is for the viewer to "slow down in front of these offerings, to apprehend the smallest reflection of their own inner wholeness…a part of the necessary restoration of balance within us as individuals and each of us in relation to the world.”
With this in mind, viewing becomes an emotional exchange, and vision, a tool used for self-growth. According to writer Suzi Gablik, “Vision is not defined by the disembodied eye, as we have been trained to believe. Vision is a social practice that is rooted in the whole of being…Beauty is an activity rather than an entity." The imagery of Learn the Flowers compels a visceral engagement. Something we simply cannot disregard when valuing art. It is what psychologist James Hillman calls "the soul's desperate concerns."
Harrison proposes that if we are to "re-ensoul a world tipped in the balance toward mind, materialism and technology, we must  live a life that makes beauty relevant...The ability to perceive, to respond, to create beauty in times of darkness is what elevates humanity in its triumph against brutality."

Gary Snyder instructs us to learn the flowers, to learn their beauty. Gabryel Harrison's new collection provides a means as to how: go light.