Chair for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
When I finished this chair, I had no words for the experience. Working on this piece was a profoundly moving. You just have to let go of everything and then let go of letting go. What remained was the sheer joy of being presented with this opportunity and then letting the pieces fall together.
A few points, This was a commission. A long-time supporter of His Holiness suggested the project to commemorate his visit to Hawaii in 2012. The small steps that led to the final form were guided by the feel of the work. I knew that I wanted it to be from this place, from Hawaii. The koa wood is from my island and the cushion was made from lauhala, harvested and woven by my neighbors and longtime friends. I wanted the chair to have the feel and strength of a koa tree growing on the mountain and I wanted the lines to have the feel of a waterfall... I chose the lauhala for the cushion because it is the humble local material from which all the necessities of life are woven. Because this chair would be used for dharma talks, I wanted the lines to contribute to the flow of the message presented without competing for attention, and to also serve as a place holder when He is not present. The slabs and lines are all gently curved so that the piece will not bounce back light when photographed. The only input I got was that His Holiness likes to sit cross legged, and that it would be nice if there was a place to put His tea.
All in all... working on this piece was not all that different from what we all do every day... which is doing the best you can with what you have to work with. I got to spend three days around the Dalai Lama and Hawaiian elders. It was a powerful gathering and holds so much hope for the journey ahead... enough to prevail over anything. The Dalai Lama’s visit was about blending the message of kindness and compassion with the spirit of Aloha . Wherever you are, keep the faith, what you do is important and it all adds up.