Garden of Secrets

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“Garden of Secrets”; Fountain, Paint, Paper, Wood, Text /poem, Bees wax; 35´L x 50´W x 12´H

This project for the University Art Museum, Long Beach was created in response to both the architectural as well as social characteristics of the site; in a sense that the Museum was placed inside the library and of course was also a part of the larger University.

Garden of Secrets alludes to the symbolic nature of language, most especially as it is experienced in poetry. At the center of the space a fountain was encased in a house of translucent paper. Three thousand paper butterflies, cut from replicas of Persian Sufi poetry books, and coated with beeswax, covered the walls and ceiling of the room. These butterflies, aloft with poetry on their wings, are symbols of thought, discourse, and intellectual communion, just as the books from which they are derived refer to knowledge and the museum/ library in which they are found. Garden of Secrets, in its totality, is a metaphor for accessing, understanding and ultimately cognizing knowledge, and language/ text as an inspirational element (in giving one wings) along this path.

The following text was painted, using melted bees wax, on the four walls of the house structure.

The house is left empty, save for the Truth,
For in a moment the world has passed away;
Then you, rid of self, fly upwards And are united to the Beloved.
Union is yours when this dream-world Fades and dies away.

This World A Mirage by Mahmud Shabistari