Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Ultimate Battle

     On the heels of 'Oddity of the Mind,' I would like to turn back to discuss 'Black Gold, Texas Tea.'   People who are familiar with this painting know it as a black square, high gloss, about four foot square.  There is a large drip in the lower, center of the painting.  In real life the entire surface is actually very sensual.  I painted it by pouring black oil on a square canvas.  When viewed in real life, at the right angle, two figures can be seen underneath.  Why did I make this painting?  How does it relate to my latest piece, 'Wheat Field Bound' and the essay, 'Oddity of the Mind' ? It is my constant search for dual symbols that challenge the ego.  How and why?  At the root of consciousness, the visceral, emotional response to the world around us is either fear or creativity.  Broken down into its most basic form, fear is a belief, conscious or unconscious,  that we won't have what we need to survive.  Many people have aptly described this the 'survival' mindset.  The survival mind looks at the world around it and sees it as 'fixed.'  That is, what exists must be fought for, held tightly, protected, and once consumed is gone forever.  Creativity is seeing 'abundance' - not in what is, but what is possible.  
     'Black Gold, Texas Tea' functions on many levels for me.  As an artist, it is an act of complete abandonment to pour black paint onto a canvas and then hang it in a museum for everyone to see.  To critique it is almost child's play.  It is almost nothing.  Many people would argue it is insulting.  As an artist who has drawn since my first waking memory, I can tell you that much of my ego is 'invested' in the art of drawing and painting.  To put all of that aside to follow an idea is a direct challenge to my ego.  That is one level on which this painting functions, the process level.  On another level, it is symbolic of oil.  The whole world is consumed by its quest for oil.  It is considered something that must be fought for, protected and many, many can't even begin to consider a world without it.  We are so consumed with the idea that one day we won't have it, that today we live in fear and aggression towards others over it.  Here begins the 'double' symbol - but inverted.  I give up my drawing to create a black square to symbolize something that we cannot conceive of giving up.  Becoming free is paradoxically an internal process of giving up our grip on that which we fear losing.  The 'ultimate battle' is not exterior.  It is not on some continent fighting for some arid bit of land.  The 'ultimate battle' is interior.  It is an awakening to the 'creative' mind that looks at the world around it, seeing infinite potential.  The awakened, creative mind knows no scarcity.  The fear-ridden survival mind, asleep to itself, knows only scarcity.    

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oddity of the Mind

  I want to take a moment to divert from talking about actual pieces to jot down some thoughts about the mind.  Risking 'unsubscribe' from my readers I will warn you, this may get freaky.  I talk a lot about 'becoming' fearless, 'being' fearless.  The intent of my art is actually a form of self exploration - an effort at coming in touch with my own form of consciousness and its relationship to the world.  Here is an interesting analogy - for my visual artist subscribers and friends, you may relate to this immediately, for others, try this someday.  When you 'look' out at the world around you, your mind actually makes a lot of 'assumptions' about what it 'sees'.  For the most part, the mind/brain for all its computing power is very, very busy and wastes little on visual processing.  It 'sees' stuff, and fills in the blanks with enough detail for 'recognition' to take place.  This is why painting and drawing can be so difficult. One has to actually get beyond the process of 'seeing' and actually see.  OK, that's kind of freaky - what does it mean.  The process of 'seeing' is a brain / mind interaction.  When an artist sits down and observes and begins to draw, the more they can remove their 'assumptions' about what they are viewing they begin to notice that strange shapes, colors and lines emerge and the world is not their original assumption.  So, this is true of all of life.  Our mind, for the most part, creates a story and then we go along for the ride.  We create a story about how successful we allow ourselves to be - although for many of us we don't use the word 'allow' because that ruins our 'story.'  We create a story for who likes us, who hates us, what troubles us, what thrills us.  For me, becoming 'fearless' is the process of recognizing we are walking through a house of horror of our own making.  If you have children, and you've ever taken them to a scary house - unless you are seriously disconnected - you don't walk through the house being as scared as the child.  Why?  Because you 'know' that a bunch of adults got together to create the 'experience' known as 'scary.'  It's fun.  When it comes to our own life, though, we don't recognize the exact same thing is taking place.  It can be difficult to step back and observe that our understanding of what it means to know what we have identified as our 'life' is a cocoon really.  An envelope in which things come into and out of our consciousness to create experience and identity.  So, I hope you're enjoying me as part of your 'story' - if not, the unsubscribe button is at the bottom of this e-mail - *smile* *smile* *hug* *hug* :)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Wheat Field Bound

This piece is 3' x 6' and is composed of wheat, barbed wire and coated in an expoxy resin. People who have seen it already have described it in fascinating ways. Some see abundance, kept at bay by our own lack of feeling worthy of it. Others see imagry of sacrifice. I continue to play with symbols that suggest both abundance and scarcity. Are we bound by our needs in a way that creates fear and uncertainty? Or are the things of this world unlimited, provided we use our mind in a continually evolving, fearless and creative way? I often wonder, especially in these times - are we bound by our fear of an unsustainable future because we see it only through the prism of our current knowledge? I love Einstein's quote - 'We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.' What would this world look like if we, each one of us, awakened to our true creative power? What would happen if we decided that we would no longer allow fear to dictate our actions? These are some of the thoughts I had while making this piece.

Friday, April 10, 2009

If The Stars Align

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The More Things Change


Overproduction on Farms

Farmers faced a similar overproduction crisis. Soaring debt forced many farmers to plant an increasing amount of profitable cash crops such as wheat. Although wheat depleted the soil of nutrients and eventually made it unsuitable for planting, farmers were desperate for income and could not afford to plant less profitable crops. Unfortunately, the aggregate effect of all these farmers planting wheat was a surplus of wheat on the market, which drove prices down and, in a vicious cycle, forced farmers to plant even more wheat the next year. Furthermore, the toll that the repeated wheat crops took on the soil contributed to the 1930s environmental disaster of the Dust Bowl in the West (see The Dust Bowl, p. 33).

Bad Banking Practices

Reckless banking practices did not help the economic situation either. Many U.S. banks in the early 1900s were little better than the fly-by-night banks of the 1800s, especially in rural areas of the West and South. Because virtually no federal regulations existed to control banks, Americans had few means of protesting bad banking practices. Corruption was rampant, and most Americans had no idea what happened to their money after they handed it over to a bank. Moreover, many bankers capitalized irresponsibly on the bull market, buying stocks on margin with customers' savings. When the stock market crashed, this money simply vanished, and thousands of families lost their entire life savings in a matter of minutes. Hundreds of banks failed during the first months of the Great Depression, which produced an even greater panic and rush to withdraw private savings.

Artist notes for 'Wheat Field Bound' - History, if not understood is bound to repeat itself? But, even if it is understood - is it still bound to repeat itself if people are unable to understand their own nature? Are we perpetually bound if we live in perpetual fear?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Stony River

This is the latest in a dream. I was hovering, one morning, over a river of stones. The water rushed by in a beautiful pattern. This piece was constructed with stone, semi-precious stone and fifty coat. It is approximately 27" x 27". I imagine it to be a prototype for a much, much larger piece. It weighs already probably forty pounds.

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