Sunday, January 8, 2012

"The Zen of Oz" Illustrations by Cathy Pavia

As promised, here are Cathy Pavia's illustrations for the book The Zen of Oz: Ten Spiritual Lessons from Over the Rainbow by Joey Green. I was so pleased to find these, especially as it was completely by chance (I don't usually research Wizard of Oz material). This book is not new - just new to me. I had heard of it but it was published during a trend of the Zen of "insert character/famous story/person here" so it barely blipped my radar. I obviously didn't see the illustrations back then though, so I'm sharing in case you, like me, heard the tile and let it slide on by without taking a look.
I'm showing the images in extra large size so you can better see the gorgeous details as I really don't like the current image viewer blogger uses. You can see them full size if you right-click (or control-click) and choose "view image".

There is this fascinating tidbit of information in a review on Amazon, from someone who visited Baum's great-grandson and had a discussion about The Wizard of Oz and specifically this book The Zen of Oz:
On one of my recent journeys through the Land of Oz, the Ozarks, I visited with my friend Roger S. Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum-the author of the "Wizard of Oz". I asked him what he thought about the theory of his great-grandfather being a Zen Master. He admitted he really didn't know. That he hadn't read "The Zen of Oz". That it has been his experience that such things were only done by people that saw an opportunity to make money off Great Grandfather's work. After I explained the gist of Joey Green's premise I did notice a slow smile take over Roger's face. He was intrigued. Though he would not corroborate Joey's claims he did state that Great Grandfather would probably not turn over in his grave if he knew about "The Zen of Oz". The one caveat Roger then mentioned was that first and foremost the Oz Series is a collection of fantasies for the young at heart. Meant to be taken with sincerity but not too seriously. The rest of our conversation was private.  

I have not read this book and this is not my review of the content - just an appreciation of the artwork which is done in Japanese print block style so beautifully and a sharing of an extra dimension I found to Baum's work and thinking. 

In case you're interested, here's the official book blurb:

Does The Wizard of Oz touch a spiritual chord in each one of us because it has a certain Zen to it? Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, is clearly a Zen Master. She sets Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road to spiritual enlightenment. When Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion let go of their conscious yearning and free their minds to function spontaneously and inharmony with the cosmos, brains, heart, and courage flow easily and effortlessly. Ultimately, Dorothy attains satori, the Zen experience of "awakening." She finds her true Self, her higher consciousness, her ultimate Oneness with the cosmos--and her home.

The Amazon link for the book is HERE.
I really liked the cultural variation on such familiar scenes. It really did add to the whole experience and made me think about the story in a fresh way for the first time in quite a while. Always a good thing!

Cathy Pavia's portfolio and website are HERE.


  1. I wish the illustrator of this had read the novel, and not just seen the MGM film and thought they knew it. Because for what they are these are easily among the best ukiyo-e-zations I've seen, especially in the colors (even if they are hand-painted rather than woodblocked) and the dynamic, evocative lines are largely just right (and I love the evocative composition of color and shape in that last one in particular); Dorothy's body and dress just look a bit too simple and abstract compared to the rest of it to me. Even if she is a simple farmer's daughter it could have been an opportunity to draw on something of the depiction of western dress in Yokohama-e as a way of integrating it.

  2. Those are really cool. I especially like some of the background detail- the trees on the cover and the crazy mountain behind the Wicked Witch of the West in the illustration with the crystal ball. I find Roger Baum's comment about people trying to make a buck off his great-grandfather's work ironic since I'm pretty sure there are those that would argue he's doing the exact same thing.

  3. Love the artwork and the book it appeared in. Check out my blog on The Zen of Oz!