"The Bodhisattva of Whimsy"
"Sometimes paintings arise in my head years before they are meant to be painted,” shares recent graduate Elizabeth Comport (Visual Arts, ‘17), the artist behind this issue's cover image, titled ‘The Bodhisattva of Whimsy.’ “While I was at Naropa, things sort of clicked into place, and I could tell the time was right to bring her to life.”
“I want the “Bodhisattva of Whimsy” to be the divinity that might walk past you on the street,” Comport goes on. “I want her to be radiantly accessible. Her face is traditional and familiar, though rather than wearing a golden crown of precious jewels, she wears a sock monkey hat; she holds headphones instead of lotus flowers or ritual objects. This can be seen as irreverence, or as a reminder that everything around us is sacred and can help wake us up.”
Comport explains that she is “concerned with the way we interact with sacredness and with spiritual and religious artwork.” She feels that “when all the images of divinity depict it as if it's within a different time or a different realm of existence, we run the risk of overlooking the divinity all around us.”
As she worked on this piece, Comport was reminded of something Naropa's founder Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche once said, "What is lacking is a sense of humor." She says, “Just as a revolution should have dancing, enlightenment must have laughter. Existence is as hilarious as it is horrific. I do not believe the journey towards nirvana should be an entirely solemn one.”
Before coming to Naropa, Comport felt she had always been pressured to do things the way that others did them. She explains, “I struggle with multiple disabilities, and gaining access to an equal education has been a lifelong battle.”
However, once at Naropa, Comport found the contemplative pedagogical approach to allow to her to develop a greater trust in her own pace and process. “My time at Naropa has helped me find sacredness within my own skull; my brain has always felt like a dysfunctional chunk of meat that sabotages me at every turn. Now I'm finally starting to see my brain as it is, strange and beautiful.”