This work represents themes that have been developing in my private creativity for many years. It is the first finished piece in a group of paintings in development. I first mentioned them here in the blog when I showed you a couple of the drawings which were also seen at Jarvis Hall Fine Art last year. They are related to a thread in my creative vision that runs right back to my earliest days of painting. Being an introvert I have always been very involved with my inner world which is filled with rich visionary experiences and since art school, when I have been able, I have expressed aspects of this inner world in my paintings. This current work is where I have picked up the thread most recently.
This interior experience I mention above has fueled exploration in personal spiritual development, spiritual philosophies and depth psychology. As creativity demands, I keep watch for a visual form that will well express treasures found in these explorations. I discovered one and this is how this work began. What follows are the basics of how I understand what I am doing with this work.
A core tenet of my spiritual learning has been that all of the world -our reality- is a kind of illusion and our perception of it is really a projection of beliefs that are deep within ourselves. When we deeply contemplate our experience as such then a completely new reality and vision arises. I look at you; I become aware that you are really me; us two together, then, is something completely new. The two become one or where two or more are gathered I am in their midst and a new perception of reality is available.
One day, during a time when I was becoming familiar with this idea I fell upon the Rorschach test used in psychotherapy and realized it could be a perfect visual metaphor for what I was discovering. I saw that as the abstract inkblot pattern transforms to a representational image based on the viewers perception, conversely a symmetrical representational image could “flip” to an abstract one. This would represent the shift from conscious literal thinking to the unfamiliar indeterminate one that leads to questioning beliefs, revelations and new perceptions.
So I began to compose images of faces facing themselves in the spirit of contemplation. Not wanting to bring into the images any personal stories and to indulge my own spiritualist tendencies, I went completely out of my time to find the subjects. I went into databases of public domain portrait photography from the last half of the 19th century for images to work with. I did not collect the names or location of the persons so they could remain anonymous and I could work with them objectively. The only thing I did notice about this subject when I chose it was that it was of a young Christian Nun.
I composed the images so that they are as symmetrically as possible so that you could experience the self-facing person as that, but then “flip” to the Rorschach-like abstract image which represents the new consciousness that may come from self contemplation.
The final element to talk about is the abstract patterns that appear on the surface of the image. The old images I was working with had damage and dust sprawled throughout. As I was composing my pieces, mirroring one face into two, the “noise” of the damage made beautiful symmetrical abstractions. This other layer of pattern grew to perfectly symbolize for me another layer of thought or energetic activity that is always present no matter what level of thought you are engaged in. The interruption of random literal thought, the revelations that drop down in deep contemplation or meditation or some transcendent “rips” in our fabric of reality.
So simply this piece is a metaphor for meditation and contemplation, for mindfulness and deep awareness and I hope that the experience for the viewer will be of the peace and balance that comes from these things. I will expand on these ideas as more pieces come to be finished.
Thanks so much for reading, it was a lot this post, I know, and I truly appreciate your time and attention,