Requiem Malas, 2021 - 2022. Ebonized lime wood, sterling silver, quartz, onyx and silk cord

June 30 – July 17, 2022


Originally presented as an installation at New York City’s 92nd Street Y in the fall of 2021, Tina Rath’s Requiem is a ritualized grief project, communal ceremony, and memorial to honor and celebrate the lives of those who have died from the recent pandemic.

We are honored to bring a part of the original project to the gallery.

The jewelry component of the project consists of 12 malas with a total of 108 beads. There are 96 carved and ebonized lime wood beads based on combinations of the circle and square and 12 quartz “bija” or seed beads. Each mala has 8 wood beads and 1 bija. When all worn by different people, they complete the prayers that send well wishes, love, and compassion to those whose friends, family members, and loved ones have been lost to the pandemic raging worldwide these past few years. After many months of separation, it is crucial to recognize that we heal by coming together.

The circle represents eternity, wholeness, and completion. The square represents stability and the constructed environment. Quartz has the highest vibration of all the stones, believed to be able to clear negative energy. The bija or seed form of the quartz bead represents new life and hope.

In the West, there is a deep history of mourning jewelry. These specific jewels publicly symbolize lost loved ones and visually communicate that one is in mourning. In the East, prayer beads are utilized to say mantras to send well wishes and lend support for those that have passed as they move through their transition. Combining the black traditionally present in western mourning jewelry and the prayer beads of the east, Rath’s malas acknowledge that mourning and grieving is a necessary and vital process.

For centuries, many of the world’s great religions have employed prayer beads for meditation and prayer. Mala means garland or necklace in Sanskrit; specifically, Japa Mala are prayer beads used by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. The word bead comes from the Anglo-Saxon word bede, which means prayer. The practice of using mala beads dates back to 8th century India. It is said to represent the tears of Shiva, the most powerful of the triumvirate of gods responsible for the cycle of birth, sustenance, and death. There are 108 beads on a devotional mala. Considered to be the most auspicious of all numbers, 108 has many meanings, but most concisely, 108 represents the unity and wholeness of existence and the basis of all creation.

Tina Rath is an American artist living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tina’s practice moves fluidly between studio jewelry and drawing. She explores ideas in distinct bodies of work and projects.

Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Art and Design in New York, NY, the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Tina’s work has been exhibited internationally at the Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam and in Munich, Germany.  Nationally she has exhibited at the Portland Museum of Art, in Portland, ME and at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina along with multiple galleries. Her work can also be found in numerous magazines and books and in many private collections.

Preferring natural materials that have stood the test of time and will remain long after she has passed, Tina taps into the inherent beauty and “life force” or vitality that exists in natural materials such as metal, hardwoods, leathers, and gemstones. Obsessed with time, her labor-intensive approach includes repetitive movements, patterns, and marks that result in forms that build up and come to a resolution over time. These accumulations serve as a way to focus and concentrate the mind allowing for a momentary sense of timelessness or deep stillness.

Tina has lectured throughout the US and has been a Visiting Artist at numerous institutions including Rhode Island School of Design, Massachusetts College of Art and San Diego State University. She has taught workshops at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. Tina was an Artist-In-Residence at Kala Institute in Berkeley, CA and at Haystack.