Nu’a Bön, American, 1954, born Hawai’i
Educated: University of Hawai’i, Honolulu; Columbia University and The New School for Social Research, New York City. Photography workshops and lessons with Ansel Adams in California and with Minor White in Peru in the 1970s.
Bön sees his work as koan – paradoxical sayings, stories or questions used as subjects for meditation in Zen training – to try to approach an understanding of how seemingly random images like road construction markings, national flags and anti-gay graffiti are related–each belonging to a world within a world, rich with attractive meanings that may, ultimately, be meaningless. “I want to confront the tension between transience and permanency, and ultimately, the fragility of our existence.”
The inspiration for his photography and paintings from over a decade spent traveling and teaching in a rapidly changing China are often drawn from evolving and decaying facets of nature and humankind and their spiritual imprints. He uses bold colours and sublime technique to dramatically link these symbols of aspects of the human cosmos – the shadow world – to portray them as one sweeping and continuous force. The symbolism of this union and the unconventionality of the style in which these images are rendered encapsulate the spirit of Zen. Like koan, they recreate a sense of being, gently guiding us to seek answers that make sense in other, more intuitive ways.