On a snowy day I discovered a red, Japanese-style Torii gate in the woods. I was working on my book Doors of Weston, and felt it would illustrate some of the variety of architectural styles in Weston, CT. The goal of my book was to focus on the diversity of passageways in my town. A Buddhist icon to join together with Catholic, Congregational, Episcopalian religions in town.
The color red has significant meaning in many cultures and religions. In China, painting a front door red before the new year invites good luck and happiness. In Ireland, red front doors ward off evil spirits. In Catholicism, the red door of a chapel symbolizes the blood of Christ, signifying the space beyond is holy. In Japan, a Torii functions to mark the entrance to a sacred space, and has history dating to the Shinto shrines of the 12th century.
This red Torii gate, standing alone in the cold winter woods, brought to mind the words of Henry David Thoreau,
“In winter we lead a more inward life. Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.... We enjoy now, not an Oriental, but a Boreal leisure, around warm stoves and fireplaces, and watch the shadow of motes in the sunbeams”.
Doors often function as a metaphor, inviting new knowledge, creativity or perception.
The Torii gate is at home in the peaceful atmosphere that only a fresh winter snow can bring. It suggests calm, a sacred place free from bad luck or evil spirits; a welcoming path to take. Standing where I stood, peering at the gate through the trees, I felt as if I was being invited to experience this magic. I would simply have to find my way in the snow, and walk through.
Signed digital archival photograph, sublimated to aluminum. Measures 11" x 14".