Circle With Maria (and Moyo)

Posted by Anne-Marie Pandya on Sep 27, 2016
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This past Saturday, a dozen of us circled up with Maria Jain, a dear friend of the ecosystem visiting from Finland. She brings with her a wealth of stories and vivid works of heArt by Moyo, a pen pal friend behind bars, whose remarkable journey of inner transformation stirred up a thought-provoking dialogue among friends.

As our event invite read:

"In May 2014, Maria penned her first letter to Moyo, a man incarcerated at the age of 18, who has been held in solitary confinement on Death Row. For 15 years, in a room smaller than a parking space, Moyo is, in his own words, working to “polish his soul, clean stains from his heart, and open windows of his mind.”

"Though living vastly different lives on the surface, they swiftly found common ground for friendship. Over a year later, Maria received a special letter with a stunning work of handmade art -- a gift the planted the seed for an art exhibit of Moyo's transformative story.

"Soon enough, Buddhas on Death Row was born. Upon finishing its 12-day exhibition last month, Maria reflects, "Moyo has pointed that this is not a project, this is practice. And in this practice, as Moyo describes it, we have been moving from ”I” consciousness to ”we” consciousness."


We gathered and soaked in a stirring series of stories from Maria (including insights from her recent exhibition of Moyo's work: Buddhas on Death Row), followed by a round of reflections from each person present. The evening was filled with deep questions on the nature of so many things:

--Some say, "Art is about paying attention." What are the simple ways of paying attention that manifest art in micro-moments of daily life?

--What is the relationship between suffering, transformative, and art? Can one truly make compelling art if life is comfortable?

--What are the invisible systems within which we live? Can we see institutionalized violence today, and what role do we play in it?

--How do we hold the spectrum of suffering with a deeper wholeness?

It rings true that each work of self expression carries within it a deeper story waiting to be revealed, both to the artist, and to those who with acquisitiveness lean into the unknown world of art.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more about Moyo's journey and how his expressions have led him to connect with so many now across the world. 

[More photos from the evening.]

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