“Let the poet dream his dreams. Yet, the poet must look at the world; must enter into other men’s lives; must look at the earth and the sky; must examine the dust in the street; must walk through the world and his mirror.”–William Baziotes
I have a tendency to get lost in the clouds and deny the reality of my corporeal existence. I have an inner committee that has been trying to convince me for years that if I just paint and meditate enough I will float away on a blissful spiritual ether. This committee informs me what I should and shouldn’t feel; that I shouldn’t be sad, angry, or jealous. Rather, I should always be happy, joyous, and free. By labeling one thing as “bad” and another as “good,” I’m codifying and separating. I don’t like to think of myself as a dualist. But this is clearly the case. I’m labeling the emotional world, physical world, and spiritual world as separate entities. I’m not thrilled with this unconscious tendency.
As much as I would like to think I am, I’m not just a spirit-body composed of particles of love. Rather than ignore and separate myself from the more uncomfortable feeling states I have within, what would happen if I tried to acknowledge and witness them? I’m listening to the anger I have within. What does it have to tell me? What does this pervasive sadness I have been desperately running from have to tell me? What about fear? God forbid I look at envy or jealousy! And I’m not just limiting myself to “negative” emotions. What about joy and love?
Clearly, these feeling states are diverse and multifaceted. Yet I think of my psyche as one thing. There’s a unity here, and contained within it are my variegated feeling states. This isn’t just true of my psyche. Billions of cells arrange themselves to create my physical body (not bodies). And the physical body and emotional body are contained within the energetic makeup of the universe.
I don’t look at it as the many composing the whole. Rather, the one gives birth to the many. I came across this Rumi poem the other day:
When grapes turnto wine, they long for our ability to change.When stars wheelaround the North Pole,they are longing for our growing consciousness.Wine got drunk with us,not the other way.The body developed out of us, not we from it.We are bees,and our body is a honeycomb.We madethe body, cell by cell we made it.
My work has always been about transcendence and our energetic makeup. The symmetry in many of my pieces speaks to unity and oneness. But I am moving away from this with the new body of work I am currently making. I’m interested in putting the chaos, the hustle and bustle, the sights, sounds, and smells of the entire world in the panel. In other words, diversity has become my subject. And how the diverse in its entirety is a unity.