The Same New Conclusion

Project Overview:

(2008-2011) This series of artwork marks the beginning of developed and cogent visual language I continually expand upon in later bodies of work. During this period when these images were created, I emerged myself in the study Buddhism as a means of healing old personal traumas that continued to affect me in my young adulthood. Attending Buddhist teachings, meditation retreats, and reading the works of Thich Nhat Hanh (2008, 1995), Kelsang Gyatso (2007), Stephen Bachelor (2010, 1997), and Eckhart Tolle (1997) greatly informed the ideas and themes that emerged when creating these images. Another major influence was an album by the rock group Built to Spill (2009) entitled There is No Enemy. The lyrics to many of the songs on album allude to loss, introspection, and a desire for relief which resonated with me on a very personal level. While music has always been an influence on my work, this album particularly was important in creating of these images.

One of the major visual development in this work was the introduction of an underwear clad wind-up figurine named Charlie. He is the toy version of a boy waiting in the examination room to see his doctor for a ailment yet to be determined. He personifies the complex feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, self-reflection, and hope I experienced during what I felt was a painful, yet essential, transformational period of time in my life. A second major advanced is the presence of different significant objects such as stones, a broken tea cup, and a pin cushion--each alluding to different values and perspectives. The stones reference the rocks Satan tempted Jesus to turn into bread while he wondered in the desert; the broken tea cup a symbol of imperfection and unnoticed beauty inspired by a reading of Leonard Koren's (1994) Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers; the pin cushion serving as personal symbol for a childhood friend who passed away--a moment I felt marked my loss of innocence. Charlie's pursuit of these objects form micro plots within the series that address the character's attachment to different ideas, concepts, and ways of being in the world. In some images, Charlie identifies with the pin cushion and is seemingly attached to the sadness, sorrow, and loss associated with it. Charlie's collecting of stones suggests his tendency for magical thinking, with some images showing the unfortunate consequences of its practices. In more hopeful pictures, Charlie cherishes austere broken tea cup, celebrating the profound Buddhist inspired wisdom it inspires. In each of these images, I wanted to visually represent the complex love / hate relationship I had with loss and disillusion, while creating counter images that presented the strategies I used to break my infatuation with unproductive emotions. 

Originating in this series, Charlie and his pursuit of different objects (of desire) will greatly inform a later project--There is No (W)hole--where many of these ideas first introduced in these paintings and drawings were expanded upon and constructed in coherent visual narrative that delves beyond my autobiographical narrative to tell a more generalizable allegory others could connect and identify with.

(section updated April 24, 2017) 

Works Cited:

Bachlor, S. (2010). Confession of a buddhist atheist. New York, NY: Spiegel & Grau.

 

Bachelor, S. (1997). Buddhism without beliefs: A contemporary guide to awakening. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

 

Built to Spill. There Is No Enemy. Rec. 6 Oct. 2009. Dave Trumfio & Doug Martsch, 2009. Vinyl recording.

 

Gyatso, K. (2007). Transform your life: A blissful journey. Glen Spey, NY: Tharpa Publications.

 

Gyatso, K. (2003). Universal Compassion: Inspiring solutions for difficult times. Glen Spey, NY: Tharpa Publications.

 

Koren, L. (1994) Wabi-Sabi for artists, designers, poets, and philosophers. Point Reyes, CA: Imperfect Publishing.

 

Thich Nhat Hahn (2008). Breathe! You are alive. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

 

Thich Nhat Hahn (1995). Teachings on love. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.

 

Tolle, E. (1997). The power of now: A guide to spiritual enlightenment. Novato, CA: New World Library.