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«you are here to risk your heart»

acrylic and metal leaf on stretched upcycled canvas (unframed)

~ 42 x 42 inches

currently hanging at the chase gallery as part of the queer art walk group exhibition

Price: $444

to purchase contact shantell jackson at:

i have recently been listening and re-listening to author, poet, ordained zen buddhist priest, teacher, and artist zenju earthlyn manuel discuss her book opening to darkness in a three-part dharma talk series offered by upaya zen center. in part three of the series zenju read a segment from the book the painted drum by ojibwe author louise erdrich that was the inspiration for this piece. the quote reads:   


“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could."


i painted the piece over the «salud» heart prototype that i created for the «salud: COVID bubble» mural (image 2 in the gallery). the image also references some of the deeply impactful art and spirituality i was fortunate to experience when training for a certification in holistic yoga at pyramid yogshala in rishikesh india (see image 3 of hanuman statue opening his heart at the parmarth niketan ashram in rishikesh, near where I trained; and image 4 for a representation of lord ganesha with a pot of nectar in his trunk).


i started this painting while deciding to take a HUGE risk with my heart. it was a risk that shortly after did indeed lead to being swallowed up, broken, betrayed, left, and hurt. this included a need to suddenly move from where i was living with very little money. this painting is so large that the only way to transport it was to take it off the frame it was stretched on and leave the frame behind. since then the painting has traveled with me and has poetically taken on some of the grittiness of the situation. art and life endlessly imitate each other.

click on any image in the gallery below to enlarge

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