Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Identity Theft: Who Am I?

"The Tree Of Good & Evil"
    We all have been influenced or impressed in some shape or form by our world that surrounds us. To say otherwise would be saying that we live in a vacuum, and since none of us do, whatever is popular in the culture is well-known by us. If the culture says it's relevant, we say it's relevant; if the culture says it's in, we buy in; if the culture says it's out, we discard it like yesterday's newspaper, so the question is not whether we are influenced by the culture, but to what extent are we influenced by that culture? This struggle or imbalance is what I depict in The Tree of Good and Evil.
    If you've seen an Adam and Eve painting before, then there are some familiar elements that you immediately recognize in this piece: like the large fruit tree, a partially exposed Eve, and the serpent wrapped around the tree; but if you look closely there are a couple of things in this particular painting that stand out, like the mirror in her right hand and the bitten apple in her left hand.
    The tree is neutral and bares the potential for so much good; it and its fruit are the culture.The tree is not inherently bad, but gross consumption of its fruit can lead to a serious distortion of our self-image. It's ok to glean from the tree, but to gorge on the tree can be detrimental. To have wants and desires is fine but when you cross the line into lust, you go from having desires to desires having you.
    The snake here represents evil and excess in the culture. The problem is that the snakes of our culture aren't always obvious, they are sly and cunning and their venom poisons the identities of those who look to the surrounding culture to determine their self-worth. The snake uses subtlety and suggestion, and its one thing to reflect the positive aspects of our society, but it's another to become a total clone of the culture, a snake-bitten victim of utter identity theft.

    This finally leads us to the woman with the mirror and the bitten apple. The mirror in her right hand represents her reflection or how she sees herself and the bitten apple in her left hand represents her consumption of the culture, which shapes how she sees herself. The mirror can represent many things, like vanity and extreme self-absorption or insecurity and total lack of self-worth. These two appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they are actually both very related since most people who are very vain and arrogant tend to be some of the most insecure people you could ever meet. The outward display is nothing more than a mask covering a much deeper, inward reality. In an effort to cover their most private areas, they leave the rest of themselves naked and exposed, which hints at the fig leaf.
    There are other areas of this painting, like the fog, that also hint at aspects of self-identity, but I will leave them to you, the viewer, to interpret them how you see them. As always I look forward to the response the painting fostered within you; what do you think about the elements that I've highlighted in this painting? Do you have a different interpretation of this painting in general and the very real aspects of our modern culture that it speaks to? Please leave your comments and I thank you for visiting.

Birthing Promise

"Child of Promise"
     I did this painting several years ago and as I sat down to write about it I must admit that I forgot about what initially inspired it. That may sound like a bad thing but it's not necessarily since we, especially as artists, are conduits and not always the source for what we depict through our chosen form of art. Many times a piece will speak just as loud if not louder to the viewer as it does to the artist, and this is how someone can see a piece and make it their own for reasons much deeper than the artist ever intended. This is what reintroduced me to "Child of Promise".     I'm a man so obviously I've never been pregnant, but everybody has been or is, in a sense, pregnant with a deep seeded desire or dream. It's that thing that pulls at your heart; that thing you can't let go of even when you try to ignore it because it seems too out of reach. If you've conceived anything good- and surely you have- then water it! It's that thing you're called to and it constantly calls to you by continuing to resurface through things that remind you of it. If you're pregnant then continue to nurture the baby; good midwives, if you will, are those people that encourage you to press through difficulty and negative voices, even if one of those voices is your own. If you're on the verge of birthing something then push, you're at the threshold of something wonderful! Maybe this all sounds corny because you've heard it too many times before. You're seasoned or incapacitated in such a way that you are not able to realize a dream the way you could have in the past. There is no expiration date on a dream and the only limitations are those that are self-imposed. If you have a child or a grandchild or if anybody has a child then you still have a dream to pursue-theirs. Whether you're directly involved or simply can be an encourager of the gifts you see in others, whatever you do, do it now and do it often. Surely you see them grappling with the same things that impeded your own steps, give them a hand, they need your voice. As a young man I need your voice.
    Wherever you are in the process you have a dream, a purpose, a promise to possess; I encourage you to go forward until it is born in your life or in the life of someone else. If you have a different take or just a comment on "Child of Promise", I encourage you to leave it here, I look forward to hearing it;
if you have inquiries about the original, simply contact me.