Mother as Birthing Buddha in Alex Grey’s “Birth”

Birth (Copyright 1990, Alex Grey. All Rights Reserved.)

Artist Alex Grey captures the ecstatic vitality of birth in his large oil work, “Birth,” one of several pieces created as part of an extensive project entitled Progress of the Soul.  Depicting the actual moment of birth, Grey uses vibrant colors to form the union of birthing mother and emerging baby.  Deep tones of purple, red, orange, yellow and blue radiate electrically from the center of the piece, forming waves and circles that encompass the two figures as they separate from one another.  

This piece is not a calm piece, offering the pregnant woman instead a representation that she can use to visualize the energy and strength that will activate her body when she goes through the birth process herself.  Mother and baby are also intimately bound in this image, reminding the pregnant woman of how physically, physiologically, emotionally, and spiritually connected she is to her child during her pregnancy, labor and the birth process.

There are many symbols present in this piece, and Grey describes on his website how they culminate, representing the birthing mother as a birthing Buddha,

The letter symbols in the painting are Tibetan syllables, a white Om, red Ah, and blue Hum.  When placed in the head, throat, and heart, these letters are the seed syllables of all the Buddhas.  Thus, the mother is a birthing Buddha.  The heart vajra in the screaming newborn is a symbol of imperishable spirit.  Thought the umbilical cord will be cut, the child will remain connected to the mother with subtle heart cords.

Alex Grey is an American artist with an extensive background as an artist, teacher and visionary.  To read his bio, contact him or view more of his artwork, see his website.