Karen Mayo is an artist from Melbourne, Australia, who has completed a Master’s degree in Art in Public Space, and who is currently studying to be a secondary school arts teacher at the University of Melbourne. This is the story behind the picture she took for our photography contest, and how she has been inspired by Eckhart’s work.
Eckhart Tolle’s teaching came into my life at the beginning of 2006, when I began my Visual Arts Degree. I found his philosophy and teaching inspirational both on a personal level, and then later, as I took on his teaching into my day-to-day life, his work began to inform my arts practice. I eventually went on to create a whole body of artwork centred on his notion of the present moment, and this then became the core focus of my Master of Arts degree.
I began to explore how the notion of presence, or the lack of it, was expressed in our day to day life. In the years that followed, I came to understand Eckhart’s teachings as something we all know but rarely identify with. It is part of our human experience and something we are innately drawn to, but only know as fleeting. In many instances, we are barely aware of when and how we experience it as we shift seamlessly between moments of presence and our seemingly unconscious and uncontrollable thoughts.
In my work, I began to explore how, if at all, we come to experience presence in public space. This resulted in the series of images you now know and included other works where I photographed intense exhilarating situations that jolt us in to the Now. For example, extreme sports, roller coaster rides and fun parks all create an experience of presence that we all know, but rarely identify with as being close to a spiritual experience. Most people in the modern day world are drawn to these experiences naturally, they seek them out and are drawn to experience intense moments that take them out of themselves and into the Now. They do this without ever really making the connection that they seek out these feeling of presence and that this is akin to a heightened spiritual awareness.
The young man in this image was photographed in a public park called WaterWorld, which is a fun park for families and children with hundreds of people running around him. The noise was blinding and chaotic and, yet, he was so immersed in the moment that the chaos appeared to simple fall away and nothing else existed. As it appeared, it was the epiphany of Eckhart’s teachings.
The beauty of photography is its ability to preserve a moment, and if fortunate, you are there to take the photo.