In this book a visual artist and a writer offer the fruits of contemplative practice. Marley Kaul a painter for over 50 years offers 20 images of egg tempera paintings made during a year long period of meditative reflection after receiving a serious medical diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis in 2016. Taiju Geri Wilimek living in the aftermath of a 1998 cancer diagnosis offers poetry that could only have been written after a long period of healing enabled by the study and practice of mindfulness meditation and the teachings of zen. Kaul and Wilimek friends for decades share a pull toward the investigation of life and death through meditation and art.
Artist Marley Kaul:
“I was born and raised on a farm in Good Thunder Minnesota. My rural upbringing allowed for observation of all living things, gaining insights about death, birth, growth, and family beliefs. I became an artist, and educator, and a parent. I earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Oregon, and taught painting and drawing at Bemidji State University in northern Minnesota.
In the 1970’s while in graduate school, I discovered meditation and Buddhist philosophy. Both have remained important to me and resurfaced in a new way recently when I received a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis that forced me to confront my mortality. I allowed many visual constructs to influence my “new” method of working. Symbolism, symmetry, color and size of work began to assert themselves. In less than a year, I completed the “Meditation Suite,” the series of 20 egg tempera paintings included in this book. Each has a basic title, and each can serve as a prelude to meditation or prayer.”
Poet Taiju Geri Wilimek:
“Although I have degrees in both Philosophy and Social Work, I have been most profoundly influenced by my everyday life. Becoming a mother, raising two daughters with my husband, and forming soulful friendships have all been essential to the depth and quality of my life. In my early 40’s I was confronted with my mortality with a diagnosis of breast cancer. Giving birth and facing death have been the most physically challenging and mind-clarifying experiences of my life. I am compelled to fully occupy my life, vowing not to waste it.
I work as a Clinical Social Worker in private practice. Studying, practicing and teaching mindfulness meditation in both secular and Buddhist contexts has informed and sustained my work. Writing poetry has been a lifelong practice that, until now, has been a quiet, personal way to explore being human. The book We Sit brings my contemplative practices into fresh open space, the space of shared reflection.”
“I am blown away by this book, its beauty and the peace I feel looking at it.”—Susan Gilmore, professional photographer
"What a beautiful book! Every spread, left and right, offers its own meditation. Even the poems' shapes tell stories. It's only right to slow down and pay attention. I savored each painting and poem multiple times.”—Shannon Pennefeather Gardner, editor
“Exquisite healing.”—Martin DeWitt, artist; formerly the director and curator of the Tweed Museum of Art, University of Minnesota Duluth; and the founding director andcCurator of the Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University.
“We Sit shares a beautiful journey into the great matter of life and death. It brings a bright light to bear on the inner experience of anyone considering these matters. I join Marley and Geri in this inquiry with a sincere sense of depth and warmth.”—Shoken Winecoff, abbot, Ryumonji Zen Monastery