"Universe! please give me a sign..." I silently requested in my heart, in the beginning of the day begging the universe for help, a daily ritual. “Introduce me to my muse… Guide my work, all knowing universe…” I needed to see my true reflection and know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, my real creative inspiration.
With this creative inspiration my essence will be introduced to this elusive muse who will guide me in my work. It will help facilitate the opening of a spiritual dimension and lead me on a journey to my own heart, for my own truth is submerged deep within the dense layers of the self and desperately yearns to be free.
The Divine union is my heart’s only desire. When all of existence and I are one and together we are nothing… and everything, such a dance is all I seek, such a union is all I seek. Searching for the universe, to make my work a living representation of the union that could one day be the simplest truth and be the dance of oneness.
On a bright and sunny day in the spring of 2013, I sat by myself in deep contemplation searching for a vision that would captivate and inspire my heart. The doors and windows of my lounge room were open wide to let the light pour in. Staring out into the busy world outside as the day continued about its business. An unexpected visitor then graced my veranda with its elegant presence. A graceful Hoopoe bird sat on the railing outside and calmly looked at me as the rest of the world fell away into silence. We stared into each other’s eyes, not as strangers, but as old friends who had experienced eternity together.
The event was an energetic exchange that cannot be translated into words. It was the silent language of the spirit, a transfer of ancient knowledge. A validation of my burning question and an answer to my search.
The majestic Hoopoe bird was discerning, righteous and intelligent and he came with an answer. Its only meaning at that moment became its message. That magical moment held intense light. The imprint of it in my mind is so gentle that I remind myself of it often as not to forget its power.
There is a saying within the spiritual path "when the student is ready, the teacher will come." The same saying can be applied to artists and their muse.
As a child we were told stories of the mystical Hoopoe bird, how it was the messenger to King Solomon, a close friend and confidant, who also brought the news of the Queen of Sheba. We are taught that the Hoopoe bird is symbolic of a high spiritual station and amongst the Sufi tradition it is said the feather crown on its head represents the ultimate Truth.
The Persian Sufi poet, Farid Attar writes fondling of the Hoopoe the following in his book “Conference of the Birds.”
“He made its golden torque the parrots guide,
He made the hoopoe as our journeys guide,
The bird of heaven flies to him,
and throws himself at His door with suppliant blows,
He gives the heavens alternate day and night,
with drawing darkness and bestowing light,
He breathed on dust and man was made,
He made the universe from Foam and smoky shade.”
The more I painted my new muse and the more the subject evolved; I came to the realization that everything is made of energy and that there is no separation. A delicate feeling came over me and I now understood that we are energy and if energy is infinite then this is the union I had searched for. I looked beyond the surface representation of the birds and depicted them as energetic beings crossing the boundary of the worldly surface.
For me, the bird is a symbol of ascension, a depiction of rising above the worldly noise and being in sync with the universe. The flight of the bird is a representation of the perfection in the design of nature. It does not try to fly; it innately knows how to fly. The air carries it and the bird resides between heaven and earth as a symbol of a higher dimension and of a Divine calling. It knows no boundaries and is free beyond measure. Similarly relating to the Divine purpose of the human being, knowing what the heart truly wants.
Sana Arjumand is a contemporary visual artist from Pakistan who has extensively shown across the globe and in her home country. Born in Karachi in 1982, She currently works and resides in Islamabad. In 2005 Sana graduated in painting from the National College of Arts, Lahore. She has had shows in museums around the world such as the Columbia Museum of Art, U.S.A and Nake Art Museum, Korea. This year she will be showing at Diocesano Museum of Milano, Italy. Her other prominent shows are: group show at United Nations Headquarters in New York; Solo shows in Aicon Gallery, New York, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney, and in major cities of Pakistan. See www.sanaarjumand.com. Photo by Drew Baron of the Columbia Museum of Art.