I never thought thisday would come, but today is the day I don’t have any homework. There are no big projects looming over my head. No question about my grades orregistration status at school. I’m not responsible for any events, papers, projects, presentations, or paintings. My show is hung and ready for opening.
(My opening reception, by the way, is Tuesday, May 1, 2012, Kendall College of Art & Design, 17 Fountain St NW, Grand Rapids, Mi, Room 604.)
I’ve been testing and photographing meals this whole time, but I haven’t had one spare minute to organize and upload anything since spring semester started. New food content will be coming soon, but today, I just want to celebrate my finished thesis, because I am pretty damn proud ofit. (And I still have to defend it to my professors next week.)
The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves
BFA Thesis 2012
“statement” – 2012
I have been afraid to release myself to visceral responses, in a creative capacity, because I am afraid of mental illness, which I consider to be tantamount to such release. Often I find myself enamored with some trivial thing, like a bit of sky peeking out from behind a cloud in front of a church spire. I know I ascribe an excess of meaning to such events. I find too much coincidental information in them. I feel a deep sense of spirituality in them.
I know that these are symptoms of mental illness. I know it runs in the family. I know my paternal grandmother never wore shoes because, as it was explained to me, “Jesus didn’t.”
Despite my fears, I fall into this behavior nearly everyday. I find I simply cannot ignore the serendipitous moments in life and they’ve always seemed like art to me. Though I know I find an excess of meaning, sometimes I do release myself to it, what dear Sigmund would call my unconscious mind, and somehow I know that all of my ideas come from there, the place in my mind over which I have the least control.
That’s why every concept I have is so loosely strung together. That’s why I make such free associations, I take liberties with well-established metaphors, I borrow from contradictory sources to support the same idea. I take intellectual leaps that others often cannot follow. What’s the difference between me and “crazy people?”
Nothing, I guess. We just channel it differently.
My paintings should not be interpreted as real spaces, but rather as metaphysical pictures in pursuit of what André Breton refers to as “the solution to the principal problems of life.” (Le Manifeste du Surréalisme, 1924) That’s not to say there’s not a narrative to be found in this a body of work; quite the contrary, the paintings follow the story of my own spiritual quest in life. From childhood to death, the same character moves through each canvas, interacting with spirituality in an increasingly significant way.
I began this body of work in the exact same place I began my real life spiritual journey: with the Beatles. Specifically George Harrison and his album Living in the Material World whose song titles provide the title for each work. I find Harrison’s work so inspirational because of his notorious mixture of Eastern and Western philosophies. I am inexplicably drawn to the overlapping ideas found between, for example, the Christian and Hindu traditions. My obsession with Christianity is a product of my religiously based education. Eastern philosophy represents “the other”, where my interaction with the metaphysical really began. I feel like the two ideas mingle inside my mind and turn into something real.
This body of work is about my own spiritual journey. Each of the images I’ve made represent flashes of important moments when the ethereal meets the material. The works follow a narrative where a central character- based on me, but not limited to just me- interacts with heavenly beings represented by butterflies and lights that represent a kind of collective consciousness or angelic spirit. Religious ideas like baptism, metamorphoses, Rapture, trinity, and life after death are prevalent in my work because they have been prevalent in my life.
My canvases tend to be as big or bigger than my physical body. I can be immersed in them, as can the viewer. I’ve filled these tableaux with a network of symbols which mean something to me. I pile symbols on top of symbols until a landscape emerges, I add a figure to act as my avatar in this world, and the metaphysical becomes visual and real. Symbols capture my attention because they can be employed in lots of different ways, even sometimes contradictory ways. I like to layer symbols in almost confusing ways because that’s what I feel my experience has been like.
This is my narrative. But it might also be the narrative of many others. One might connect with many or much of the symbology I employ or one might just enjoy the quality of the paint I’ve applied to the canvas. Either way, I’ve explained what’s important to myself already.