Juanita Cheng-McCarron

Juanita Cheng McCarron

Glass Artist – Fused and Carved Glass artworks, Drawings incorporated into fused and carved glass

As a child I loved the number 5. I drew it all the time and my favourite “5” images – fonts, drawings etc. – were pinned on my tack board, spilling out onto my bedroom walls. Decades later, while sitting in mediation with my root guru, H.E. Garchen Rinpoche,  I looked upon the Tibetan seed syllable Hung and saw the number 5 at its center, right there clear as day. It’s a syllable I mediate on all the time, but for some reason, that day, I finally saw it. I laughed out loud – one childhood mystery explained.

Imagery, symbolism, iconography…. These have always been like a road map for me, hinting at a blueprint below the shallow surface of culture, race and philosophy; hinting at the oneness, our original nature, the interdependence of all beings. My artwork tries to express this – the wordless, the collective unconscious, the mythos and inner dream of sentient ones.

There is no difference between “art” and “dharma” for me. It is all the Great Mother Dharmakaya.

My primary medium is glass – a liquid moving so slowly it offers the illusion of solidity. With it I try to capture the the “there/not there”-ness of experience, and hold it for a moment in a form field of light and color.

I fuse and form glass in a kiln. I also carve and etch glass with a sand blaster.

Both processes are playful, alchemical. I never know what awaits when I open the kiln at the end of a cycle, because glass is alive with a will of its own. In the blast cabinet, I work almost blind as I carve, because the cabinet fills with clouds of black silicon dust…. Often, all I have to guide me is the ball of light created by the silicon abrasive’s contact with the glass. It is beautiful. Like a tingle. 

I often incorporate my sketches and drawings into both fused and carved glass. I call them 30-second sketches as a pneumonic to help me step aside and allow the image to step forward. Some of the images are quick and free, others are more deliberate. This allows me to combine free form organics with the play of glass, color and light. If anyone is interested in the technicalities of how this is done, I will happily explain, but I’d rather not take the time here.

I have no degrees in art; I am in many ways self-taught. I was blessed to study glass carving under the master glass artist Norm Dobbins of the Aliento Glass school. He was among the kindest, most patient, precise teachers I’ve ever known. I studied fused glass with Edythe Lewis, an abstract artist who opened me up to color, form and the bold gesture. I began, first, carving in stone – tapping into the ancient urge to mark rock with indelible meaning. Stone became glass…. Glass became dharma….

My first career incarnation was as a lobbyist and fundraiser for international human and civil rights issues. This is where I encountered Vajrayana Buddhism. While working with Chinese dissidents from the Tiananmen Square movement, we built bridges of communication between these students and Tibetan communities. The Vajrayana seed of this lifetime was planted when I took a meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He showed me how to offer a kata; I have never seen so much light in my life. Years later, root lama H.E. Garchen Rinpoche scooped me up like a long lost daughter. Lama Chenmo. I bow at the feet of the father….

I was born in Baltimore MD. My mother is Puerto Rican, my father Irish/German. Thus, my personal core beliefs were music and dance. Our summers were spent on my grandfather’s coffee farm in Puerto Rico where we’d pick breakfast, cool our feet in the cow pies of my uncle’s field, and spend endless hours lost in the jungle behind the house only to come home at dinner time (maybe) wearing lizards in our hair. They were easy to catch if you knew how not to scare them and would docily crawl all over you. 

I live in New Mexico with my husband, daughter, five dogs, five cats and many fish. Now in my 50’s, I look back on the dream of this life I and can see that the Dakini has always been there. How can she not? She is the very atmosphere.

She took over my art. She took over my heart.
Glass and light became her body
And in creating forms with them,
I touch her form
And am her form creating.
Every piece is her whispered voice –
all paramitas,
all secrets of suchness,
of there/not-there-ness,
of emptiness filled with resonant,
thumming love….
She is the womb,
Great Mother Dharmakaya birthing all forms,
All appearances
out of sheer love-light
Luminosity from the vast expanse
of undefiled pristine bliss,
is the Great Mother, Dharmakaya,
outshining all divine forms.
I am a poor artist.
But I’m a pretty good brush.
She holds the handle.
And if anything of any worth at all arises from the ink which flows thru my dark hair,
then it’s because of her, great artist, and only her.
Sarva Mangalam.