The Rumi Room

Within my exhibition at the Daum Museum, there is an intimate gallery where the talented director Thomas Piché has gathered a unique body of work, and dubbed it the “Rumi Room”.  The origins of these paintings emerge from time spent on an island off the gulf shore of southern Florida, filtered through an immersion in the ecstatic poetry of Kabir and Rumi.

Left:  Sappho’s Mountain Hyacinths   Right:  Island Journal Day III

Each of these paintings were born of an immediacy of the senses:  high winds, burrowing clams, sea grasses waving, the elegant tails of terns, beached jellyfish, waves rippling in from the deep sea, a grape leaf cartwheeling in the wind along the shore.

Left:  the island        Right:  Sappho’s Mountain Hyacinths 78×103

The poems that are imbedded in these works join that sense of immediacy and even urgency as he/she (Kabir shifted narrative genders seamlessly) begged the reader to not linger in dusty ritual, but rather to (I’m paraphrasing) wake up!  Now!  Know God!  Embrace your Ultimate Lover, who is here!   Follow your senses!  Everything is here, right now!

Kabir’s Swans – polyptych 52×83

During this fertile time on the island, many small studies were made at a makeshift beach studio, which was set up under a small stilted cabin, with a sand floor, exposed to the weather, making it a thrilling, alive place to work (small).


However when I arrived back home, there was an explosion of productivity; even while the northwest winds blew across winter’s monotone prairies of eastern Kansas, skin fading brown, sand still imbedded in brushes, my being was still full of beach and poem.  These months following the island time when back in my home studio, are when all of these works were created.

Island Journal -Days I, II, II (sound recommended)

Kabir’s poem “Music of the Inner Universe” titled this monumentally scaled diptych, shown below the poem, and completes this body of work in the Rumi Room:

“…Listen friend, this body is his dulcimer.

He draws the strings tight, and out of it comes the music of the inner universe.

If the strings break and the bridge falls, then this dulcimer of dust goes back to dust.

Take your seat on the thousand petals of the lotus, and there gaze on the Infinite Beauty.”

Music of the Inner Universe – diptych, 77×240 total

I hope you can join us at the Daum to experience these paintings and many others in the main gallery.  The Grand Opening is February 27th from 6-8 p.m., and a lengthy artist talk is scheduled in the theater across from the museum, April 2nd at 6 p.m.  The show is on display January 31st – May 31st, 2020.