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Encountering KālīIn the Margins, at the Center, in the West$

Rachel Fell McDermott and Jeffrey Kripal

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520232396

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520232396.001.0001

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(p.xv) About the Chapter Silhouettes

(p.xv) About the Chapter Silhouettes

Encountering Kālī
University of California Press

My work incorporates my interaction with a broad range of media, suitable to bringing out energies manifest in ideas that relate to what I call “meshes of the continuum.” These meshes are a weaving of my mind, experienced through being touched by truth—a flow of relationships and events stemming from the evolving archaeology of my existence that began in India. I draw and paint to realize fragments and wholes, through a layering process using traditional as well as digital media. “Layering” is a metaphor to express whatever I wish to contain in space: the memory of time, deity, culture, power, and compassion, and my existence as a Christian amid myriad religiosities. These elements are brought together spatially in what becomes for me a layered mandala. I use color as discrete units of energy in an attempt to portray an ineffable, archetypal numinosity. I assign meaning to evolve a new whole, energized by my breath and charged with a vision from a sanctuary of “knowing.”

To arrive at a contemporary visualization of the Corpus Kali, I began looking for a model whose life and art spoke of an intense sexual energy. The Lolitaesque renditions of Kali as seen in Indian calendar art and popular posters were simply not reasonable models of inspiration. I see her as a dancer, always moving in relationship to a chronology of timelessness. In the dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, I have found an appropriate conceptual model for Kali. Her dances and technique come in part from a (p.xvi) deeply sexual source. The image on the cover of the paperback edition of this volume is a homage to the Kali in Graham. Kali luxuriates in a very Graham-like expression of movement that thrusts the glory of her being out at us. It sings its eroticism right down to the particular velvet dark-blue that contains her energy in perfect equipoise. Kali's dark, luminous color and the expression on her face at once make her accessible emotionally and yet distance her from intimate communion. Visualizing the Goddess in this way stills the nervous system; one is becalmed under the fiery yet benevolent stare of the Devi, the luxuriant Goddess, the Mother and exemplar of intense feelings. Continuing to see her in the round, I have also created a series of fourteen drawings that appear as silhouettes throughout the book. These silhouettes help project the depth of Kali's force. She helps one belong, particularly in the nascent dawn of late capitalism. There is much to see and understand.

Venantius J Pinto

Venantius J Pinto was born on May 14, 1961, in Mumbai. In 1986, he received a BFA from the Sir JJ School of Applied Art, in Mumbai, where he majored in Design for Social Issues with an emphasis on illustration. He also received his MFA in computer graphics in 1991 from the Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, N.Y., after completing a mixed-medium animated film, Shunyata, as a thesis project. He currently lives in New York City, where he works as a digital artist and uses art to pursue his ideas on social consciousness, religion, and sexuality.