49 to a new is comprised of 3 pieces – wake, drift, and alight. These three pieces explore the Buddhist concept of the 49th day service. After a family member passes, the family attends a wake, a burial service, and a ceremony to celebrate the 49th day. In Buddhist teachings, once the person passes, their spirit wanders in the dark moving to a new place every 7 days, and on the 49th day, a service is held to mark the spirit’s new resting place. At the person’s bedside were placed an arrangement of flowers, a candle, and the burning of incense. As the year passes, these objects find a home, at an altar in the bedroom of a loved one providing a place for visitation.
I am interested in daily ritual, specifically in relation to the flower and the vase, the candle and the wax, and the incense and its holder. What defines a ritual and not a habit is a question I have been asking with this work. My only surviving grandmother who is in her 90’s visits my grandfather every morning through daily prayer, a prayer involving lighting a candle, burning incense, and arranging fresh flowers. Her dedication and belief makes me believe that this process transcends habit into ritual, and ritual into truth.
In the piece -Wake, a horizon line is formed comprised of 49 candles. As each candle burns the horizon line made of wax slowly changes forming a wake pattern. The melt is never the same and the process is always revealing.
Drift is a made up of 7 forms that when together form a cloud. Each form holds 7 white mums and by the 49th day the piece resembles floating islands with tiny trees.
Alight forms a ladder comprised of 49 incense sticks. The residue of the burn forms a smoke pattern within the ladder. As the days progress the pattern becomes rich in texture and color.