Trailer with lettering: BAH DAH


The Project

I like to say that the Mantra Trailer is parked at the intersection of imagination, evangelism and propaganda.

The Mantra Trailer evolved over a course of three years out of my concern over the use of repetition in political and corporate language – the reduction of complex realities into simplistic phrases, repeated over and over to induce herd mentality and reduce thoughtful discourse. I consider the slogan to be the dark side of the mantra.

The Sanskrit translation for mantra is mana – mind and tra – tool or instrument of thought.

Simultaneously, I was experimenting in my studio with repeating out loud my own repetitive thoughts. I was often surprised at how my mantra would shift in tone, emotion and meaning through the process of manifesting my thought into something real – a sound wave.

The final piece of this project came together after reading The Prophetic Imagination by theologian, Walter Bruggeman. He describes evangelism as “an activity of transformed consciousness that results in an altered perception of world, neighbor and self, and an authorization to live differently in that world. I thought that this sounded like a worthy goal for community based art and social practice.

So I hope you enjoy listening to mantras recorded by your fellow citizens across the country, and that you will choose to explore your mantra out loud the next time you have a bit of quiet time.

After all your mantra is your homeopathic remedy to the mass media slogans of the day!

The Experience

By-passers drawn to the Mantra Trailer are invited inside one at a time to contemplate and record their mantras in privacy. Meanwhile dialogue is initiated on the outside of the trailer as people encounter the spectacle of the exterior.

The interior of the trailer is a traveling meditation space and recording studio, providing an unexpected oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a city street. The interior can only be experienced by people who enter with the intention of contemplating their mantra. Images of the interior trailer are non-existent and prohibited.

In contrast, the exterior of the trailer offers the perfect cell phone camera op. Reminiscent of the church signboard the sides of the trailer host a changeable marquis. Mundane, playful and even bizarre personal mantras take on unforeseen spiritual, cultural or political content to those who witness them. The exterior is also equipped with an ultrasound, directional speaker by Holosonic Research Labs. Almost subliminal, it mysteriously broadcasts a mix of pre-recorded mantras.

The Artist

With a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Bard College, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Emory University, Sherri Lynn Wood is an interdisciplinary artist, healer and quilt maker based in San Francisco, CA.

Sherri combines her knowledge of craft, sculpture, and theology to reacquaint people with personal agency, community, care, love and the basic skills of living. Sherri has been making quilts since 1988.

Recent projects include: Passage Quilts, working with the bereaved to make improvisational quilts from the clothing of the deceased; Prayer Banner: REPENT / MERCY / GLORY, a communal mourning project concerning the war in Iraq; The Piñata Anchor of Hope, a geo-psychic, temporary public art project for the City of Durham during a time of upheaval and rapid development; 1200 Hats, a collaboration with residents of the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women; The Mantra Trailer, a homeopathic remedy for the mass media slogans of the day.