WE ARE ONE—my new coffee-table book—is getting some press! I was sent the following questions by a local reporter who’s doing a book review for my hometown newspaper. Here are my answers.
1) What inspired you to write this book?
WE ARE ONE is the culmination of decades of hard work, both in the visual arts and in writing nonfiction. This 84-page, linen hardcover coffee-table book was first put together in dummy fashion over 15 years ago. Last winter, I brought out the loose-leafed, stapled black-and-white mock-up (forgotten about, truthfully) to show my 98-year-old mother, a local fisherwoman here in St. Augustine who passed away shortly afterward. At that point my husband Carter Lord and I decided to self-publish this book. We enlisted the technical services of talented locals: Leeann Kendall (a photographer, the book’s editor), Erin Fitzpatrick (a graphic designer, our technical editor), and Imagine Fine Art (superb digitalization). It’s all our professional belief that we have created something beautiful to behold. It is also my personal hope that the more people who see and read WE ARE ONE, the more will experience what it documents: that truly, we are all One, linked by the energy of consciousness. I’m speaking metaphorically, yes, but also energy-wise. This has been proven by quantum physicists’ recent discovery of the Higgs bosun. This book takes us on a journey, using visuals and words, that helps us sense that our ordinary day-to-day world can be extraordinarily felt—perceived that is—if not seen. As an artist and down-to-earth person (one of my passions is to make deep-water voyages on small sailboats) I believe this interpretation of life—that we’re all interconnected—makes for a better, safer, and more all-inclusive place for us all to grow and thrive in.
2) What type of research was involved?
My research was to learn how to be hyper-conscious.
The images and text within this book document my own true experiences. As a teen I began the earnest quest of adventuring, inwardly and outwardly. Doing yoga poses (initially for a bad back) naturally led to exploring spiritual issues (the true purpose of their invention by ancient sages). Gradually, I found answers to my seeking-quest in Native American ways, and mystical traditions from other cultures. I have worked with indigenous shamans during years of illustrating for Ph.D. botanists at Harvard University (Plants of the Gods, by R.E. Schultes contains a few of my illustrations). For decades, I have studied yoga of all varieties, and deeply explored meditation with one scripture-based teacher. What intrigues me most is investigating how various people around the world reach their own truth, whether through an ancestral path, a person’s own inward journey, outward rituals, a defined philosophy, religion, or simply by connecting with Spirit through Nature anywhere on the globe. I stay away from politic statements, although a hero of mine is Daw Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma (Myanmar today). I certainly will vote in the upcoming Presidential election, using my conscience as guide.
3) Who is your target audience?
My audience is anyone who’s interested in something other than reality-TV or who wants to know more about the Mystery of Life. I prefer to call my visual works Dreamtimes but when I used to exhibit in galleries in New York City, Santa Fe, New Orleans and Monterrey, Mexico, critics called my work visionary. Today I have another book, an illustrated nonfiction narrative, being represented by a literary agent, who regards my audience mainstream. The world is changing!
4) How would you describe your (writing) process?
a- making the visuals
Each image of WE ARE ONE was composed like this:
First, I photographed my own work (a painting or sculpture). Then I painted upon that photo. Next, I re-photographed that now-enhanced original image; adding Xeroxing, cut-outs, then re-photographing and scanning that finished image, most of which are 3-generational. Then came lots of fiddling in PhotoShop before sending the final file to the printers. This book is a collection of multi-media images that combine recognizable and symbolic gestures.
The writing process for WE ARE ONE (except for the text-only introductory four pages) is simple poetry-prose. A few words set the tone for the story told within each image. Some call this type of art, narrative. After creating a work of art first (see above) I wrote a few words to offer the viewer help to jump into the experience of each image. My writing is 90% editing, so every word is fine-tuned down to each punctuation mark, or using none where one is expected. Making and appreciating this kind of art (whether written or visual) is like being in a trance—it necessitates opening to the same deep inner place that meditation takes a person to.
5) What do you hope readers get out of the book?
My hope is that my viewers/readers have a deeper experience of being connected to ALL in existence upon journeying through WE ARE ONE.
Humankind’s thoughtful traditions often describe the Mystery of Life as there’s more to life than what appears to be. If I can help people feel the Mystery, perhaps just a little bit more, with the aid of this book, I am thrilled! In all my work I try to shatter mapped-out boundaries, preconceived notions, cultural guidelines, and other kinds of artistic renditions of separators that might keep us from recognizing WE ARE ONE. I hope my efforts help pry open, just a hair more, a person’s ever-widening doors of perception.
6) Who is your favorite author?
Too many GREATS to have one! My favorite author/artists (because my medium is words and images) are Hundertwasser and Elaine deKooning, both now gone but important mentors of mine. I also read anything by Russell Banks, Barbara Kingsolver, Louise Erdrich, Edwidge Danticat, Eckhart Tolle, Carl Hiaasin, Wade Davis, Andrew Weil, etc. My tastes are wildly eclectic. In my local book club we read/listened to Hamilton, the hip-hop hit play. Next might be Jane Austen.
7) Why do you spell your name with a capital Z?
The very fist thing I offer on my website tezalord.me (where links to my years-long blog Lord Flea and art gallery are, and my book can be purchased, as well as at Amazon) is to explain the origin of the big Z. Here’s a hint: bell hooks is a dearly loved Buddhist writer and teacher who inspired my humble use of no caps. The upshot, though, is to ensure correct pronunciation. teZa is not my Christian name but one I gave myself 40 years ago.
For readers of this post, Lord Flea is my, teZa Lord’s nom de blog