Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)

Alice McMahon

Galena, United States

Artist's Description

From the “Black Butterfly: The Muse” series, installation portrait of John Lennon, charcoal on Mylar drafting film, 15 × 14” in vintage lighted corner shrine box, overall 20 × 18 × 10.” The translucent Mylar allows the backlighting to shine through the drawing. There is a small installation on the built-in shelf of the box: a traditional Indian oil lamp and incense burner, and a photo of Lennon with second wife Yoko Ono, from the cover of “The Wedding Album” (1969.) There will eventually be a real decoupage butterfly on the upper portion of the box. In the photo, I have taped a temporary one to show placement.

<span style="font-weight:bold;">John Winston Ono Lennon</span>, (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980) was an English rock musician, singer, songwriter, artist and peace activist and one of the founding members of The Beatles. My installation piece is inspired by the John Lennon 1970 single Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) and incorporates references to the Beatles trip to India in 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation. Lennon’s resemblance to Jesus in the portrait is intentional as an acknowledgement of his March 4, 1966 statement to the press: “(The Beatles are) more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first-rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”

In February 1968, the flower-power counterculture was alive and well, flourishing in a village called Rishikesh in the Himilayan foothills. There, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was offering a three-month course in transcendental meditation.

While other swamis were offering traditional spiritual instruction in modest huts along the banks of the Ganges, the Maharishi had constructed an air-conditioned ashram — surrounded by barbed wire — for the comfort and privacy of celebrity acolytes such as actress Mia Farrow, Beach Boy Mike Love, folk singer Donovan and, of course, John, Paul, George and Ringo.

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Symbolism:</span>

In Hinduism, the lotus (water lily) primarily represents beauty and non-attachment. The lotus is rooted in the mud but floats on the water without becoming wet or muddy. This symbolizes how one should live in the world in order to gain release from rebirth: without attachment to one’s surroundings. Water has been an object of worship since a very early age among the Hindus, and plays an important role even today in Hindu religious rites. During all purification rites, water is sprinkled on the object to be purified. The butterfly is symbolic to me as Lennon’s muse, or inspiration, and in this case, is also a symbol for transformation in the afterlife.

I used several different reference photos of John Lennon combined to create this unique image. The clouds across his forehead are taken from the cover of Lennon’s “Imagine” album. The mosaic backdrop is from photos of the John Lennon Imagine memorial mosaic at Strawberry Fields in Central Park in New York City. The Lotus reference was taken by my good friend <a href="http://www.redbubble.com/people/lindybird/art/3...;.

I listened to John Lennon’s music, and covers of it as well, throughout the drawing process. I was frequently moved to tears by the fact that so many of the lyrics are still relevant today.

~ Imagine Peace! ~ Alice

(For my September solo exhibition, the installation will be placed in a darkened corner of the gallery, and there will be more items related to John Lennon’s life included on a pedestal.)

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Studio music: </span>

“Imagine” John Lennon
“Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur”
“Across the Universe Soundtrack”

Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) lyrics

Songwriters: Lennon, John Winston
Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin’ to do,
It’s up to you, yeah you.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin’,
Join the human race,
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin’ at fools like me,
Who on earth d’you think you are,
A super star,
Well, right you are.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Well we all shine on,
Ev’ryone come on.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Better recognize your brothers,
Ev’ryone you meet,
Why in the world are we here,
Surely not to live in pain and fear,
Why on earth are you there,
When you’re ev’rywhere,
Come and get your share.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on on on,
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah-.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
On and on and on on and on.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.

Video here

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