Crossing Into Heaven
40" x 10"
Oil, Acrylic, Gold Leaf on Canvas
My grandmother remarried before I was born. My 'new' grandfather's name was Toshio Nagata. Growing up, I never understood that there was a difference between my mother's culture, my father's or my grandfather's. To me, they were one and the same. Although at home, we practiced just a little of the Japanese tradition, the idea of it, the look and feel of it, was always present. All of this served to shape the way I looked at the world and would eventually portray the world through my art.
The serpent/dragon figure in this painting is a composite of these cultures and their legends of the creature - all of which must come from a deep spiritual understanding of symbols, for the stories are remarkably similar from one tradition to the next. It is beacuse of this that I choose to represent the three major contributors to my early development in one work.
There are so many contrasting tales of the serpent and dragon. In some legends, it is a dangerous liar or fiend, bringing destruction and deceit. In others, it is the saviour of mankind, bringing truth and healing. The serpent lives in the deep of the earth, the rivers and oceans, but also flies through the air, unencumbered by gravity.
I think in many ways, what it represents most is the way we see ourselves. We can be harmful and dishonest at our worst - taking, consuming. But at our best we are light and full of joy, healing and sharing, bearing no heavy burden but buoyed up by the goodness in our hearts. The dragon, to me, means that in every path we take, we have a choice.