Gordon Walters and another attempt to ride the Möbius strip out of dual thinking

When I was a kid, my dad showed me a symbol he had come up with during his days in Berkeley in the 70s. It’s confusing either way you hold it:

IMG_20181126_171308     IMG_20181126_171314

To my great delight, a similar image started showing up all over Auckland back in July:

Gordon Walters, Painting J 1974
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Courtesy of the Walters Estate.
Source: The Auckland Gallery website, accessed 26 November 2018

I loved the Gordon Walters exhibit at the Auckland Art Gallery, aka Toi o Tāmaki; I went twice (the museums here are free for New Zealand residents!) and bought the catalog to add to my collection of art books addressing the spiritual in abstract art. I also thought the Gallery did a good job of describing the cultural-appropriation controversy the artist found himself in the middle of, not to mention the fact that Walters and his friend Theo Schoon apparently appropriated artistic ideas from Rolfe Hattaway, a patient in a mental hospital?!

As someone who often sees the world in terms of the potential for quilt top patterns, the show gave me all sorts of inspiration for some appropriation of my own. As of this writing I’m seriously considering a Möbius quilt, just to ensure it’s entirely impractical and complicated. And nerdy and fun.

I’m really liking the Möbius strip as a symbol for non-duality:

[T]ry to choose an “up” and a “down” on a Möbius band. When you slide along the band, you eventually wind up at the same point you started at, but “up” has become “down.” … Its storytelling potential is clear: you travel around something, only to end up back where you started but disoriented.

Thanks to Evelyn Lamb over at Scientific American for that quote. It reminds me a lot of having once been a California girl driving North up Australia’s East Coast, on a different Highway 1, behind a steering wheel on the right side of the car, my car on the left side of the road, as the sun set over the hills, not over the ocean, and the entire world felt inside-out.

Up / Down. Both / And. Wherever you go, there you are… wherever that is.

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