I work in a cave-like studio- blinds drawn, doors locked and ear plugs in when I need to focus. I recently saw "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," a documentary about cave paintings in southern France, and realized that I do essentially the same thing with the same materials that my distant relatives, homo sapiens, did 35,000 years ago: Large imagemaking with burnt wood. This new piece is as much about that distant connection with past humans as it is about the very human instinct to push further, to explore, to make new paths by walking where no one has walked. Just when you think you are on the furthest edge of humanity, that our entire history has led to this very moment and that it is special for that reason, you realize that every human for all time has felt that same way. That is the infinite loop I see when I look in the mirror.
This blue piece was made in reaction to, and is partnered with the previous piece in this series, "Easter Island." I was experiencing the connection to humanity through a very different lens with that piece. I was intentionally staying "informed" about global activity by choosing my news sources and listening while I drew. It was a devastating news cycle drenched in suffering, power struggles, murderous wars, regime changes, family destruction, disease, and nuclear fallout. I found myself calling this "reality," and began to feel a sense of delinquency when I started backing away from the news. By not listening to the news I felt that I was dwelling in my ivory tower while ignoring the suffering peasants. The problem with this (aside from the inherent untruth that the USA is a palatial utopia to gaze "down" from) is that it is the road to guilt and it is a dead end. Guilt is self imposed and when it gets too uncomfortable we have many ways of turning it off or ignoring it. Ultimately, that will not lead to connection or responsibility. In reaction, I began looking for the circuitous back road to a more sensible place of connection. After my time of listening to the global affairs, I began looking inward again, to places of direct experience with what it means to be human.
The above image in the middle is by Carl Jung, made between the years of 1912 and 1917 when he explored the boundaries of his psyche and allowed himself to be overrun by his creative "illness."
Jung: "The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life, Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then." C. G. Jung 1957
Jung placed a high value on the interior landscape of visions, dreams and fantasy. He helped countless individuals by validating what our culture had come to consider the useless ravings of madness. With one foot in western medicine as president of the International Psychoanalytic Society, and one foot deep in the rabbit hole, he was able to give a legitimate voice to those silenced by the new dominant mindset of science and logic. He not only validated and made legitimate these deep human stirrings, but put them back on the pedestal of the sacred. As an artist I feel a sense of duty to explore and reach past the confining barriers of that mindset. It is the artists' responsibility to liberate minds, to show the vast reaches of creative impulse, and to expose the poetry available to this peculiar life form, homo spiritus.
I was reading Jung's Red Book as I was drawing the grid pattern I see when I scrutinize the surface of my skin and came across this image he drew. I suddenly felt Jung's drawing in the same way I felt connected to those cave drawings. The era and location of these two works are so different from my own that it would seem impossible to imagine what was going through the minds of the creators, and yet the thread that connects these artists to me and my urge to make art reveals some subtle classification of what it means to be human.
So why blue? It's a thank you note and an homage and a hall pass to and from Jung. It's the midnight of space and water, two realms within the reach of human curiosity. It's beautiful- what's more human than that?