A conversation with John Tallerino and Marc Randall:
Tallerino – We all have our own deity, that we relate to. If we have a spirituality at all. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a god, it could just be nature.
When I put something into a shrine, it’s usually of two of my major deities: Kwan Yin of compassion and love and nature, and Ganesh, the remover of obstacles. I’ve usually put one of those into the shrine when I hang it, just to imbue something into the shrine. But again, that’s my deity. So I encourage people to use their own. Maybe they want a Ganesh, or Kwan Yin, or Buddha, but it’s up to them, to get their own piece. If I sell them the deity in the shrine then it’s not theirs, so to speak.
Randall – All the deities point in the same direction, anyways.
Tallerino – It’s just how you relate to it. So it’s deities not included. That’s been a problem, putting these deities in. People come by, and the first thing they say is, “Are you Buddhists?” Because I use those deities more than Mary, or bleeding hearts, or icons from other religions.
Tallerino – And too one-gendered. If Jesus were worshipped, the way he taught, it would be a different story. But he’s not. So I don’t use his image. The empowerment of the masculine in church throws everything off balance.
I tend more to the pagan than any real religion – once you set up a religion that is controlled by a hierarchy, then that hierarchy’s influence takes over. In paganism you’re worshipping the same energy, from your own personal feeling. Not being dictated to.
Randall – It’s all about blendings. What we’re aiming for is blending these spiritual beliefs.
Tallerino – Christianity has Mary, another Kwan Yin, the same in terms of how she is revered. We like to mix it up, allow the viewer to interpret. The deities I use here are just to show what you can do. They don’t go with the shrine.
Randall – Deities not included! Supply your own.
Lyn – How do you suggest people make use of your work?
Tallerino – First of all, it has to resonate with a person. When I do a piece, we talk about it as a prayer. When I’m done, it has been imbued with my prayer. But it’s not finished, because I leave places for people to use the work. I tell people, if it doesn’t resonate for them it’s not going to have much meaning for them.
If it does resonates for them, it’s there for them to use however they wish to use it. Light a candle in it, enjoy the beauty, or put something in it that’s meaningful to them. And contemplate that.
You have to interact with it, to make it work. The act of putting in fresh flowers, lighting the candle, ringing the bell, it all makes for personal involvement, personal ritual. It’s all oriented to self, and connecting with the universe. Everything is interconnected.
Another thing I’ve found, is usually in two weeks of the time they’ve purchased it, something comes to them, to put into it. That’s the feedback I’ve had. Some people know right away: I’ve got this rock, or shell, or piece of jewelry, something my grandmother gave me.
Inevitably, something comes, and that transforms the piece into their piece. My prayer is still there, but they have their own prayer.