A philosophical topic that used to really capture my interest was the mind/body question. What bridges the gap between who we are and the physical transport we are housed in? What spark makes me ME, what binds soul to body? Over the last decade, I’ve slowly come to think that it may simply be explained by the electrical impulses and transfers of neurons, I find ontological queries much more captivating with an agnostic eye. I find the incredible world we live in to be full of natural wonders and mysteries in their own right, I find awe in that which we can see and in the prospect of what we have yet to learn.
Now that we are in the right frame of mind, this painting, My Sister Subconscious, has been maturing since 2010. This is the 5th iteration of the image and there will be one more before I am done with it.
The original, My Sister Subconscious, 2010 and two studies from 2017, attempts to transform the figure with realism and a choice to move towards moon vines in place of the geometric shapes that hide that magical, mysterious place where the conscious and the subconscious meet in a shadowed hallway of the mind. The night blooming flower, Ipomoea alba, while not technically a Datura, still of the Solanales Order, can easily be used, leaving the possibility for symbolic amalgamation. Conjuring the Datura is desired, but I could not resist the night blooming aspect of the Tropical White Morning Glory.
Our subconscious protects us. It functions to store memories and to filter out expansive experiences and information that allows the conscious mind to find presence, to get on with the business of living daily life. The amount of information (correctly stored or not, but for the sake of brevity…) kept there and how our conscious mind taps in to it or doesn’t – that is something that I find endlessly fascinating. What do we hide from ourselves? Is anything better left unexplored? How can we access it when we have the desire? I firmly believe living a life of introspection, which creatives must, and all people could, means exploring the hidden recesses within us. It means going to the hidden places, understanding our processes, revealing the cogs that churn into each other – the subconscious and consciousness, symbolized also as the seeing eyes peering out from behind the glazed over conscious mind. When we don’t look below the surface, when we live without examination and curiosity, the conscious mind gets away with a lot of bad behavior. Compassion is born of connection, of humility and of understanding we are mere repeating patterns in nature. It’s the kind of work that is never finished, human condition and all.
I may return to the conscious mind’s eye being totally blind in the final version as it is in the studies. In the 2019 version, I wanted to experiment with the figure being more accessible, more whole, then the original concept of a mysterious nocturnal creature with a split face. This removes the bud hiding the point of connection, however, removes exploring a pin point in philosophical and physical space that I will probably never stop fully questioning.