Remember all of those old AOL discs you used to get in the mail? Artist Jerry Givens wishes he had more of them. Givens makes mosaics out of cut up CDs. At today’s Kalamazoo Art Hop, his art will be at Sangha Yoga where Givens is general manager.
Givens says making art helps him to focus, just like yoga.
“I’m able to one-point my mind which is the point of yoga,” he says. “It’s not to completely forget about life or completely clear the mind so that there’s nothing there. It’s actually one-pointing the mind. And I can get very absorbed into my work and it is like a meditation. I feel very supported from doing this.”
Givens has been teaching yoga for five years. He says yoga has had such an effect on his life that almost all his mosaics have yoga symbols like vriksha, a kind of sacred tree, and the Hindu god Ganesh.
“He represents the removal of obstacles and the Ganesh mosaic I actually named ‘The Remover’ for that particular…for that name. And that’s why I created that image for my friend who needed the healing,” Givens says. “She had a lot going on in her life and the idea behind the mosaic was to remove obstacles from her life.”
When I came to visit Givens, he was working on an Ohm design.
“Ohm is the sound of everything being created and everything returning to source,” Given says.
Givens spray painted the canvas black first, then layered gold and brown paint to give it a marble look.
“The way that you get the reflection of the CDs on top of it is actually going to be complimented by the fact that there’s not a definitive color behind it," Givens says. "It will kind of give it another dimension which I’m actually really excited to see.”
Givens chops up the CDs with a pair of shears. He says not all CDs are created equal.
“CDs that have been mass-produced, like an album or something like that, will tend to shatter more than a blank CD I’d get from Target,” says Givens. “The ones from Target I can actually shape very easily, but it doesn’t have that nice crackle look to it. So it depends on whatever goal I’m going for.”
Givens then arranges the pieces on the canvas before gluing them down with super glue. He says most discs are easy to find, except for black PlayStation games.
“I actually sacrificed a couple of my Tomb Raider games for the sake of art,” he says.
One of Given’s pieces is a bit more Western than his other works. It’s a compass.
“I named it ‘Yantra’ one to honor yoga, because these all have a yogic undertone to them, but also because yoga’s been so important to me that it’s been my compass," he says. "It’s pointed me in the right direction and has helped me in my life. Any time I get confused or uncertain where my future’s going to go, you know I can go into my practice of yoga and meditation. And like a compass pointing me in the right direction, I usually get to where I need to be. Actually I’ll say always get to where I need to be, even if it doesn’t seem like it at first.”
To see Jerry Given’s work or to give him some old CDs, visit Sangha Yoga on Kalamazoo Mall.
Music: Kazue by Riley Lee