The sun radiates through the near naked branches warming the wet left from the early morning rain. I walk along listening to the sound of my boots as they scrap and crush yellows and reds into the gray gravel of the path. Releasing the sweet decaying scent of leaves dying.
This earth perfume stimulates the memories stored of this fragile sweet time of fiery colors and wool sweaters. The olfactory notes of the season bring forward my awareness of life and death. The cycles of light and dark and the memories of places visited.
The fragrances of oak, maples, birch, poplars, and beech… every year a different batch and measurement of each to fit the experiences that lingered all year with the sun as it now travels south and the snows are soon to come.
The cold will clean the pallette. And these scents and memories will fall back into the dreams and winter sleeping deep in tree roots and the buds waiting for Spring. My boots will crush snow and leave tracks that will vanish into the earth.
This is a bit of a meader through my inner dialogue about this image I and painting. It started as an Instagram post. I though I share it here so I could add more to the ideas that are coming up around this.
Thoughts about this painting…. If Ba’al represents the regional God/diety of storms and rain and the God of the Bible represents all that created the world then it starts to separate and segregated the needs and access to divine intervention and relevancy in these relationships. We can look at it like weather and climate. Each in relation to the other.. So the storms of certain areas are a direct experience of those who live their and what drives that weather might not be anywhere near them. Shifts and changes would have consequences. And if your perspective was only channeled through the immediate circumstances then something like a climate would be mysterious and unimaginable.
If your people pray to the rain God and it doesn’t come then it could seem a failing to appease the diety. Then there would begin a recipe for taboos, rituals, and ultimately dysfunctional fall out of those things…. and conversely if all you knew was the bigger patterns of climate you might be disconnected from the traumas of weather and it conditions that affect people, places and things.
In this image I’m painting there is the simple chemistry of water and the sun. Two parts of what generates weather. The sun heats the surfaces of the planet creating convection and movement … wayer droplets rise into the sky and drift as clouds…. all this becomes the jet stream( I have radically simplified this process here because this is IG)…. as the droplets get heavier, temperature and such they fall to the earth…. for thousands of years people have give these phenomena names and called them Divine beings…
This painting start as just painting a goat and it has opened an box of connections, archetypes, and trying to bring together something ancient with the struggles we are facing today. I choose make this image feel like the alchemical manuals of the 17th century….that weird mix of God, and mysterious, curiosity, and to have that feeling of being a religious icon. As humans we has always clashed in these places…. and we are doing again. As these edges rub together and fray apart the fibers of beliefs and dogma then we might find away out of this.
Art should be in many ways, about documenting a period of time. A reflection of the society’s struggles and triumphs. The individual seeking of identity within a certain period of time. Art is that complex, multi-disciplined many armed tribe of creatures welding materials to define the angst through the architecture of a place and its people. It suffers the peculiarities of the artist’s personal lens who creates it and it is often the historical misunderstanding of real events after the artists are long gone and can’t defend their intent. Perspectives are like beliefs emotionally charged and defined by the sanity, woundedness, and vision of the believer. Perspectives feed on power and myth…. and with the right dosing become the stories that a are told through time.
I started a series of photographs called “What Remains”. It was a way to look as things that have weathered and endured. I photographed dried dead fish as I walked a long the Gulf Coast, drift wood, bones, the skeletons of buildings, Petroglyths, broken glass, etc…. Each image seemed to sit in the present silence of it’s subject. We become the witness in the voyeuristic myth of what it could be…. we make up a story to fill in the gaps…. sometimes we want a meaning that is sensible…. reasonable for what is left.
Humans have a tendency to want to see the ancient as sacred even if what we see today is the scattered dismantling of an entire group of of people by the violence of war. Then there is that romanticism with the exotic a long with comparison to completely different peoples and beliefs….. All very messy and not very good for sorting things out.
While thinking about all these larger philosophical ideas and rhythms I am still looking to find a deeper meaning in my own work. Something that will remain and have hopefully a meaning that carries it beyond what any contemporary perspectives and power seeking.
I had a teacher at the Arts high school I went to in New Haven Connecticut. She taught the painting class I was in and at the end of the semester she wrote in my critique, “… that I seemed most myself when painting…” I felt that to be one of the truest insights anyone had offered me up to that time. She saw me. She saw what painting did in me.
Painting is pure joy. It is the thing that matters. It is the deep dialogue I have with pigments, lines and the flat surface in front of me. It is where I meet the Divine. We wrestle and debate negotiating the composition and visual impact. We create the dynamics that draw the eye across the plane and hold it there…. to wander into deeper perspectives of a self and cosmic explorations. Feeling the movement and tasting the colors. Hearing the murmuring….mantras…. the tiny connections and random associations that speak to each cell in the body…
It was religion and oppression, starvation, along with the greed for riches that started the mass migrations that would eventually displace millions of indigenous people all over the continents of North and South America. We of European blood came in waves of time each group seeking a better life some where else…. risking life, family and all that was left of dignity and self. To come here. To sail on ships, arrive and shuffled like cattle through the process of immigration. Forced name changes. Learning a new language. Working in inhuman conditions…. following that dream of a new life. A new beginning.
The strength to migrate is not easily decided by those in dire conditions and circumstances. It is a will to live… a deep and profound desire to find a way passed the pain of living in ways unimaginable. It is the spark of hope…. and maybe the God’s of Chance throwing you a good roll of the dice.
So many never make it. They become the dust and mud of dreams forgotten as they are trampled under the feet if others. The memories in stories left in the communities that made it or stayed put. Migration is made up of people who willed against Gods , governments , bleek odds and the dare to risk the things known against the unknown. They looked a death and said, ” Try me….”
We are facing a worldwide shift in peoples. The world’s boundaries are becoming less meaningful as resources, climate and governments fail. Every time this has happened in the past people moved carrying all they could manage. They left all they knew for anything that could give them a sense of safety and sustainability. Human displacement as well wars over water and land historically have been part of this process. Over time we develop these ideas of ownership when in fact it is a delusion. We own nothing but the person we are. Stuff comes and goes. Impermanence. Change. Sometimes in a life or not till many generations have tilled the soiled built the roads, squatted in the resources rich places. Long enough to forget the ancestors that came before.
It is this forgetting that makes us build futile walls against the inevitable migration of people with their things into places that provide hope for humanity.