Like many of us. Michael Stone was my Zen and yoga teacher and dharma friend.
When I first heard the news of his coma my heart and stomach sank with everyone in disbelief. I prayed at my altar to his photograph as his life hung in the balance. When he was taken off of life support I placed his image on the ground and began to trace it.
Something in me knew to do this as my sunken heart gave way to silent weeping. With my fine pen's nib I slowly tapped black points the size of sand grains materializing his tender eyes, long nose, then mouth, then ears...
His life and passing affected me beyond what I could understand at the time. It stirred in me this deep need to express something. At the time I mistook this to be the fact of my own mental health challenges and tried to be the voice Michael could no longer speak.
The past 16 months I intermittently participated in news articles, blog postings, dharma talks and panel discussions, but never felt I fulfilled what had stirred me. I now understand that it was Michael's deep sensitivity, expressiveness and affection that I related to. For me, despite the tragedy of his illness and passing, this part survives.
So I returned to the act of pointillistic tracing to express what of Michael's spirit I'd felt moved me. The near-silent tapping of dots like the striking of a tiny mukugyo to the heart sutra. I will be animating Michael's moving portrait through hundreds of traced drawings through a process called rotoscoping.
I have already received a $1000 grant through the Canada Arts Council in partnership with Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) and the Artists' Health Center. Their initiative is called Animating Artists' Health. This animation is slated to screen at the Aga Khan Museum (date TBD) along with 7 other 1-minute animations on mental health.
This grant has given me the opportunity to make this animation. I am writing you to share in the inspiring news of this project and also in a fundraising effort to further support the effort as time and costs will far exceed the budget. I want this project to be made well and celebrated with everyone feeling a small part of it. Dāna (giving) is a practice of generosity so please trust what feels right to contribute.