Expansion and Contraction

Hi Friends,

Last week I went on a tour of the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai. Jiddu Krishnamurti was an internationally known spiritual teacher, philosopher and writer who came to the United States from India in 1922, at the age of 27.

The center that he founded in Ojai is in a quiet part of the valley, off the beaten path, nestled in amongst citrus orchards. Large oak and pepper trees shade the property that houses a library and a retreat. As I sat under the trees, I was struck by the profound silence and a feeling of peace.

As part of the tour, we learned about Krishnamurti’s life and beliefs, and one thing jumped out at me. It has to do with nature. I’m paraphrasing what our tour guide, John, one of the librarians at the center, said.

Being in nature is expansive, because it’s vast and open, and no one is watching you. You’re free to be yourself. In contrast, being in a city is contractive, because of the closed-in feeling from the buildings, and the fact that you’re being watched by other people.

I’d never thought of expansion and contraction in that way before. Of course we feel better being in nature, and I can see why being in cities and crowds wears me down.

In response to this idea and in collaboration with nature, I created a new piece using rusted rebar — just the rebar this time — no dye. The rebar rust marks are so stunning that I left them alone.

Click on the images to see this piece larger in a browser.

Cassandra Tondro, "Shockwave," rust art

“Shockwave,” 36 x 48 inches, iron oxide on canvas

Detail images:

Cassandra Tondro, "Shockwave," rust art

Cassandra Tondro, "Shockwave," rust art

Cassandra Tondro, "Shockwave," rust art

Cassandra Tondro, "Shockwave," rust art

There’s a lot of oscillation in this piece, a feeling of shaking or expansion and contraction, if you will. Rebar is a very strong material, and you can see the sturdy backbone in the marks it leaves. I see this piece as a portrayal of strength and vulnerability — the strength of the rebar, and vulnerability in the tremors.

What’s your experience with nature? Is it expansive for you? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



  1. I print foraged foliage onto merino (see Unseen Botanicals), staying clear of chemicals or any practices that could harm the environment. I feel the resulting prints are a conversation between the plants and the merino. Therefore I am only an aide to that conversation. I don’t direct it or force it. That leaves room for serendipity and random. And that is where the magic really lies….

    1. Your prints are lovely, Bill. I like what you’re doing by combining them with dyes. The abstract look is beautiful.

      I’m also a big fan of serendipity! When I try to plan things out too much, the work isn’t interesting.

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