About the Project

Within these letters I explore precepts of Buddhism such as emptiness, impermanence and transformation through sculpture, drawing, video, writing, and photography. These letters also tell a story of a personal journey and a deep relationship developed through a synthesis of artwork, spiritual practice, and dialogue with another.

I first saw Hawk while walking in Flushing Meadows Park during my lunch hour. Hawk was alone in an open field tossing a stick in the air with his beak trying to catch it with a tallon as it fell.

I had seen many hawks before astounding in flight but what I perceived as Hawk’s simple joy while playing captured my heart.

Thereafter, I searched for Hawk on my daily walks. Once I spotted her soaring so high in the sky, she appeared only as tiny, black silhouette at the edge of the white, round sun.

I might be walking on the city street at night and Hawk would appear vividly in my mind: gliding silently amongst the steel and glass canyons of reflection and light.

Hawk had become many hawks, real and imagined. It was this aspect of our relationship that I became most interested in expressing.

Attending classes at the Kadampa Meditation Center in New York City I began a spiritual practice and first considered my relationship with Hawk in term of ‘emptiness’, Buddha’s explanation of the relationship between one’s mind and world.

At Goddard College I was encouraged to follow my heart and deepen my relationship with Hawk. I researched a wide range of written and visual artistic resources, experimented with different artistic mediums and continued my study of Buddhism. Letters To Hawk, is my final, culminating MFA project.

I give my deepest appreciation to Goddard faculty member and artist Lan Thao Lam for her help, encouragement and commitment. I give my deepest appreciation to faculty member and poet Gale Jackson for inspiring a true voice. I give my deepest appreciation to faculty members and artists Pam Hall and Ruth Wallen, who in earlier semesters, listened and thoughtfully replied as I spoke to Hawk.

I give my deepest appreciation to Resident Teacher Kadam Morten and Foundation Teacher Sara Wendt who have guided me through the wonders of Buddhism. I give my deepest appreciation to all the teachers, staff and volunteers at Kadampa Meditation Center who make a peaceful, spiritual oasis in the New York City possible.

I give my deepest appreciation to all the staff at the New York City Parks Department for creating and maintaining the city’s beautiful park system where my relationship with Hawk began and where I enjoyed many years of employment.

I give my deepest appreciation to Rohesia Metcalfe Hamilton whose committed efforts created this site and made it possible for me to share.

I give my deepest appreciation to Hawk.


Tom Cleveland
Goddard College MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts Program, Spring Semester 2014 Culminating Degree Portfolio

Lan Thao Lam, advisor
Gale Jackson, second reader