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about the artist and writer

My name is Mardi. People ask "like Mardi Gras?" and I say, "yes, like Mardi Gras".

And one day I said to myself, "Yes. Like Mardi Gras, the wild celebration of celebrating. I'd like to be that!"

Another day I was reading about Sufi mystics. I came across the phrase "Mard-i Khuda" meaning one who is absorbed in God. And the delightful thought came to me that perhaps I am a celebration trying to find God.

In fact, I do not really know, have no idea, who I really am. I know the many things I've done and felt and thought and wanted to get and wanted to avoid. I know the wildly diverse confusion of experiences I've collected in my life. But who I am? Not a clue.

But here's a list of things that you might want to know about the "me" I've constructed and inhabited for the past sixty-some years.

We should start with the things I am not. I am not absorbed with God! Though that is something that I think is a truely worthwhile thing to become. I am not one who has abandoned all in pursuit of God. I do not hear God or see God or even remember God most of the time.

I am just an ordinary person who happens to be fascinated by the spiritual dimension of life and enchanted by thoughts of God. I like to collect ideas about God like some people collect art just for the love of it, like those who love opera or who love the NBA. This just happens to be my particular obsession.

I was raised in a conservative Christian family where we were taught that loving God was the only thing worthwhile in life. But quite early on as a child I thought: if there really is only one God, would he really talk only to the Christians?

I decided that the preachers were just mistaken, God clearly talked to and listened to everyone equally in all the different religions, I just happened to have been born into a Christian one.

Of course I didn't tell anyone about these ideas! As I grew older, I found wonderful thoughts about God in many unexpected places in many different religions. And I concluded that I had been right all along about that.

My educational journey started by dropping out of several colleges in my twenties. I migrated through various different occpational lives for about a decade. I also explored different religious homes and paths. Each seemed to hold beautiful spiritual treasures mixed with a lot of politics and exclusivist social dogma and institutional self-preservation. So I just kept the parts about God and ignored the rest of it.

Finally, after creating and exhibiting as a visual artist for over a decade, at forty I got my undergraduate degree in Fine Art with an emphasis on drawing and print-making. Then I went back to working out my life in different spheres of employment, friendship, inquiry and religious exploration for another decade.

At that point I decided to get my Master's degree in Religious Studies, with an emphasis on world religions. While getting my degree, and for several years afterwards, I worked with an academic project to publish a comprehensive encyclopedia of Hinduism. And I taught a few semesters of World Religions at a community college.

But mostly I just returned to living my wandering life again. I didn't wander geographically, just through the worlds of ideas and thoughts and experiences.

And I began to find intimations of the center of myself, that still hub around which my thoughts and activities were in constant motion. I cannot yet reside there, but I pass by it more frequently in my pel-mel dash around the incessantly turning circuit of my life as I continually create my life in its multiple directions.

These writings on this website are my attempt to hold myself in that place where I experience more clearly what feels like my truest self. By writing and creating images I can stay there for longer than the ephemeral momentary flashes of recognition that pass through my mind in my normally madly whirling scramble through life.

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