Jessica Ping DePaiva

Jessica Ping DePaiva

Wheaton College

Studio Art


Mentor: Richard Haynes, MFA, UNH Department of Admissions

The Practice of Spirituality and Zen as a means of Enlightenment and Transcendence through Photography

Art and faith are both important elements of the human experience. Throughout history art has been a creative expression and a source of documentation, starting with the first cave paintings. Faith has existed across the world in different forms and religions. Together they unite the image, the artist, and the viewer. I have chosen to concentrate on photography and its correspondence with spirituality and Zen.

I would like to acquire more knowledge about the characteristics that photographers define as spiritual or Zen in their own photography. Many photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Minor White, John Daido Loori, and Paul Caponigro have come upon this spiritual, and more recently Zen, relationship with their photographs. Spirituality is the ability to transcend through knowledge by reaching beyond oneself, others, and the world. Zen is similar to spirituality; it is practiced by those who are looking for enlightenment and the true meaning in life. These concepts are universal, yet each photographer explains them in his own way.

Alfred Stieglitz expressed how his photographs of clouds were the pure expression of his inner state of being. Edward Weston and Ansel Adams used photography to express the power of personal experience through landscapes. Minor White believed that the power of photography created insight, in the viewer. John Daido Loori practices the Eastern philosophy of Zen and explains how photography has paved the way to his true awakening; while Paul Caponigro continues to seek unity and oneness with himself and the outer reality through photography. I am interested in learning what characteristics define spirituality or Zen in photography.

In order to answer my question I would like to interview Paul Caponigro and John Daido Loori, learn Zazen meditation, and to keep a personal journal on my own experiences as a source of reflection.



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