For most of my life I have devoted my attention to both a spiritual practice and to art. Today I experience my weekly sessions teaching art and yoga to incarcerated girls equal in value spiritually to my more formal practices. In my painting I bring a spiritual point of view to public art projects and form images of the Buddha from junk mail. In all of my work, I integrate the sacred and the secular.

I employ chance systems and enjoy collaboration because they are surprising. I feel a kinship with the surrealists, and artists throughout time who found ways to let the unexpected in. I am persuaded by ideas in Wabi Sabi, in particular the notion that beauty is a state of consciousness. Beauty is an event that occurs between you and another. In that spirit I want to find beauty in everything, often in those things that are rejected or considered ugly.

I was raised a Catholic and had the unusual opportunity to study with monks who connected the sayings of Jesus, with Eastern meditation and social activism. In my twenties I met my spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, who gave me the name Hari Kirin meaning “a light of the divine feminine creative”. In this way, and many others, he confirmed for me that there is no separation between spiritual practice and creativity. I consider the connection of East and West, my current dharma and my childhood religion, as an opportunity to enrich my life and work.

Making art is a spiritual practice for me. I understand the two-dimensional space of the canvas as a place outside of the literal, a sanctuary, where one can encounter soul. A visitor to my studio the other day commented on how fully integrated my yoga and art are. In my workshops I teach people from all backgrounds how to practice yoga as a spiritual discipline and how to paint seriously.

I work in public places, because painting inspired by a spiritual practice is a way to sanctify what would otherwise appear only secular. I am also interested in bringing depth to this kind of painting, an approach particularly relevant in this new century.

“As artists, our expertise is that of imagination, and human imagination needs to take a leap. I feel it our responsibility not to make art out of an individualistic place, but to begin to expand our imaginations, and understand we are all connected.”
Hari Kirin, Yoga International Summer 2011