Creative minds make connections that most of us never make, and this is never truer than with sculptor Susan Pullman Brooks’ show, Sacred Luminosity, which opens this Friday, April 14th at Gallery AWA (61 Greenpoint Ave. #306). The exhibit explores the connections between the goddesses of Vedic Pantheon of India and Celtic deities. Brooks has a keen artistic vision, creating art that reflect the cycles of life and death and in forgotten remnants of culture. Brooks is extremely familiar with Indian culture not only because she has spent a lot of time in India, but also because her husband Douglas Brooks, a professor of religion at Rochester University, has devoted decades of his life studying Sanskrit and the Hindu faith.
In the early 90s Susan, who had studied painting, developed an interest in yoga and Hindu mythology, which led to many pilgrimage trips to the temples of South India. The influence of Hindu myths combined with the physicality of yoga reignited her artistic desire—but her medium changed from painting to sculpture when in 2012 she had an epiphany, realizing that she wanted to create art that translated mental narratives into three dimensions.
Brooks eventually became fascinated by the similarities in the narratives of Celtic goddesses and female Hindu deities and she began an intense study of the Celtic pantheon. She was struck by the uncanny similarities between the two seemingly disparate cultures. Not only were the stories and symbols the same, but sometimes even the very names were the same. Brigit and Tara of Irish mythology also appear amongst Vedic Goddesses. She even noticed similarities in the weaponry brandished by the goddesses of both cultures, and the many commonalities inspired her to create the series of sculptures in the Sacred Luminosity Show.
The material that Brooks creates with is often found on her rambles in nature. She works with bone, but also in scrap metal and even uses plants like thistles. If she combines disparate materials, then her artistic vision is also one not of harmony, but of asymmetry and unbalance. There are few straight lines in her work; there are a number of bent or twisted shapes that are tied to the ancient Hindu idea of Zirkuti, which says that our karma is not linear, but rather twisted and broken much like the vision of the fragmenting gyre described in the poetry of Irishman William Butler Yeats. Through it all Brooks manages to create sculptures that are energetic, capturing the feminine energy of the goddesses of both cultures. The pieces are paradoxical, simultaneously somehow exotic and familiar, but well worth seeing for yourself.