Featured Artist Member

Featured Artist Member honors the artist members of Berkeley Art Center, highlighting the breadth and variety of mediums, processes and concepts engaged by our community. Only artists whose memberships are current will be considered. To become a member, please sign up HERE. To fill out our Artist Member Informational Survey , click HERE.

Featured Artist  April 2016

Lisa Espenmiller

Born in Illinois in the early 60's, Lisa Espenmiller was raised in Iowa. In 1978 she was transplanted to California where she has lived since. She is a visual artist, poet and gardener currently residing with her husband in Oakland. She works with acrylic and ink on canvas over panel, ink and ink wash on paper, and prefers the discipline and "getting to the essence of a thing" that Haiku requires.

Artist Statement

The lines and washes of color in my paintings and works on paper, visual descriptions of the chi or breath-energy that flows through all things, seek to sober and quiet the mind. When the mind quiets it becomes susceptible to inspiration, to movement from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic. Whether the body of work attempts to depict the inner scenery of breath-energy (The Way, Where you come from), the ever-shifting inner and outer landscape (the groundless ground), or talismanic power (chant), the goal is to engender a stilling of the hyperactive mind so the viewer can recognize the existence of a source that transcends human or divine authority – what Lao Tzu refers to as “dark-enigma” – the chi-tissue of empirical reality and the empty opening of consciousness itself.

The paintings and works on paper function both as mirror and window. Viewers are encouraged to stand before each one allowing the piece to offer a reflection of what’s inside or a view into another layer of reality. Think of them as a modern form of mandala or yantra.

As in meditation, my process requires that I remain rooted and immersed in the realization of the piece for a focused, uninterrupted period of time. There is little time or space for the logical mind to intervene in an attempt to control the outcome. The pace of each line, the movement of the brush or pen are guided by intuition and “no-mind,” accepting and trusting what presents itself in each fluid, changing moment.

The images shown here are from the series "chant." Like all my other series, it provides an opportunity to work with the wisdom of The Tao. A drawing involves finding from each successive chapter of the book a phrase that contains a chant-like musicality and resonance. Using a particular process I write the chant slowly, methodically until the sheet of paper is filled in one direction and then another. The pattern that emerges is subtle and surprising with an underlying grid ever-present giving the series mystical form and structure. Each piece becomes a densely woven tapestry drawn in ink. The title is the chant held within the piece.

The intention is that one drawing will be made for each of the eighty-one chapters.  I see these pieces as holding talismanic power – a form of practical magic helping to place us in harmony with the turbulent energies that act upon us.

Click here to visit the artist's website.

Click on images to enlarge.

chpt. 4: born before the gods (2014)
ink on paper, 30” x 22”

chpt. 24: too much food and useless baggage (2015)
ink on paper, 30” x 22”

chpt. 22: be broken to be whole (2015)
ink on paper, 30” x 22”

chpt. 6: it never runs dry (2014)
ink on paper, 30" x 22"

chpt. 21: to follow Way absolutely (2015)
ink on paper, 30” x 22”

For a list of previously featured Member Artists, click the link for the Index of Featured Artists.