Where Sky Meets Water
Organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs’ Public Art program, Where Sky Meets Water was held at the Chicago River by the Michigan Avenue Bridge in October of 2007.
Where Sky Meets Water is rooted in the South Asian tradition where offerings of leaves and flowers are sent out into the rivers and seas of South Asia from China to Japan, Bali to India. These offerings act like prayers celebrating the harmony and relationship between the physical and spiritual, the ordinary and the transcendental. I saw Where Sky Meets Water as a ritual of hope and restoration and a prayer for peace.
Over the past 2 years I painstakingly incised the sacred Sanskrit syllable, Om, which embodies the wholeness of the universe, into hundreds of canna leaves.
In the week preceding the event, on Saturday, September 29 at 11 a.m., participants decorated their own leaves in a free workshop at the Chicago Cultural Center. On October 6th, some participants gathered in canoes in the river by the Michigan Avenue Bridge to float the leaves while others collected on land by the bridge write their own leaves, casting them in the river. Others joined hands in this ritual of peace and listened to the leaves as they soundlessly chanted Om, moving slowly with the current gradually disintegrating to fulfill the third aspect of all life, dissolution.
What remained for all watching was the knowledge of one’s own potential for meaningful artistic expression and how nature has the potential to heal and restore us.