Thursday, May 2, 2013

What Does Your Art Mean?

I had an epiphany the other morning.

In the shower.


Doesn't MOST wisdom come to us when we're in the shower? Seriously. Showers are like portals to the invisible realms of the universe that hold all the answers we've ever been seeking.

So anyway.

What came to me was this nice neat compact little phrase to answer this question:

"Tell me about your art, what does it mean?"

(work in progress, Self Portrait)

You'll notice on many artists' websites or resumes a nice compact Artist's Statement which summarizes said artist's philosophy on art. Why they do it. What they are trying to say with their work. The context in which it fits into the larger art world.


I've been making it up as I go along. I really have had no idea.

I paint fearlessly.

I take risks.

I have no idea what the outcome will be.


(work in progress, untitled)

Sure, those are okay, but they didn't feel complete to me. A beginning, but not the whole picture.

More like I've been muttering under my breathe, barely a whisper, blah blah blah... let's just look at the painting, shall we, and stop talking about it. I'm an ARTIST right? Not a writer. Okay? Sheesh.


Yet all of the sudden, in the shower, comes this statement, which is EXACTLY what my art is all about:

*I am making the unconscious conscious.*

And I'm SURE that you get it, right?

Well, you may not. But me? OMG. YES!!

THIS is what I'm doing! THIS is what my art is ALL about!

(work in progress, Self Portrait II)

If I've confused you, here, Carl Jung explains it this way:

First a popular quote:

"Until you make the unconscious conscious, 
it will direct your life and you will call it fate."

And a more classic definition:

In his work, he described both the collective unconscious and the personal unconscious. " addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche, there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents."

Have I lost you?

Basically this is what I'm trying to say:

You've got your personal unknown depths that are waiting to be discovered by you, or even if you've started digging around already, there's always plenty more. And there is also a vast unseen region that ALL of us can plug into and explore, and it's the same box we're all searching in. Though of course, we may experience and interpret what we find in that box in very different ways.

So what the heck does that have to do with my art again?

When I paint, I tap into both my personal and the collective unconscious. What shows up on the canvas is coming from there. I do not sit down before I paint with certain ideas or images that I want to recreate. I let the painting emerge, little by little, in a spiraling motion, abstract to concrete, back to abstract to concrete again, round and round until the "final" image is brought to light.

I am bringing into the world something that has never existed before. I am creating something brand new. I am sharing with you my experience of traveling through the lands of both my personal and the collective unconscious. You will have your own personal experience when you see my paintings. It could be a small sliver of recognition, a huge AHA kind of moment, or complete indifference. No one will experience it in exactly the same way.

It's quite similar to a shaman's journey. But I'll save THAT for another post.

And why am I telling you this?

Because I finally CAN! 

I finally have words to explain exactly what it is I do when I paint.

(work in progress, Tell Our Story)

THIS is what my art means.

It's a HUGE moment for me.

Thanks for sharing it with me!