Thursday, April 29, 2010

Moving toward or away from integration

"Some artists paint or photograph the same subject many, many times, intentionally challenging themselves to represent it in new ways. This in-depth exploration of a single subject can be both demanding and rewarding, forcing the artist to explore nuances and subtleties that the first few visits fail to elicit."

-- Bob Cornelis, on his Art Blog

Given that I've been doing variations on this curious body/torso theme for a couple of months now, you can imagine that I found the observation above reassuring: just because I've done this once doesn't mean I can't do it again, continue exploring this theme.

But what intrigues me today is that these images are, for the most part, headless -- and therefore brainless. And it occurs to me that there's been a slight flaw in my spirituality of late: though I openly strive for integration and oneness with the rest of creation, I have made my own brain -- specifically, the monkey mind that interferes with my meditation practice -- a kind of enemy. Perhaps these images have been a way of exploring that and helping me to see what's been missing?

I first began to wonder about this when I began telling people about my plans to go to grad school. They'd ask what subject, and I'd answer "Organizational Development" and I could see their eyes begin to glaze over. And seeing that took me back to all those uncomfortable times in my childhood when my brains got in the way; when I was dropped into that box reserved for "the brainy ones" and otherwise ignored, chosen last, and shunned by my classmates.

Once I understood that this was the reason I was reacting to the glazing, I couldn't help but notice that one of the reasons I'm so excited about the program is that it will allow me to exercise my left brain again. But is that all there is to it?

I had thought that my excitement was arising from my true self, this feeling I have that this is the work I was born to do; that the happiness was flowing out of a sense that I was honoring my real self; integrating brain work and heart work. But could it be that what's really going on here is that I am excited to be moving back into a space where I might be able to earn money again, might be able to have prestige or power again? Because those are powerful motivators. Could it really be a sort of egoic triumph that's operating here?

I am of course hoping these petty motives have nothing to do with it -- or at least that they are not the prime motivators. But the fact is that desire and attachment are sometimes difficult to separate, and I will need to be sure that the longing to pursue this course stems from an overflowing of true self, a longing to give back, rather than from some sense of inner deficiency, of not being or having enough. And those, of course, are always good questions to ask in ANY decisions we make.

6 comments:

KimQuiltz said...

Could it be possible that your images express your desire to remember to remain grounded in the body while your explore the brain? A need to remain feminine in a masculine world? Neither one exclusively bad or good, no black or white, just IS-ness.

You spoke of your intellectual-last-one-picked feeling from childhood, where your athletic prowess was discounted and your brain was your biggest asset...and now that you have grown through and beyond those labels, perhaps you are just simply hanging on to a very valuable and very physical part of yourself while you immerse yourself into intellectual pursuits.

Just my two cents. *G*

I'm excited to see how your schooling adventures alter/enhance your art!

Maureen said...

I subscribe to Bob's blog; I always enjoy his offerings.

I think these images you've been creating appeal to me so much precisely because they don't have heads, just as Magdalena Abakanowicz's headless figures appeal to me a lot. There's a power to them, they force you to reflect on what's not there or really is there, can be seen in the mind and imagined but for . . . all those things that separate us from each other. (I'd love to see all of your images together in a show, or a book.)

Brains: they were always my "problem", too. Along with speaking out injustice.

KimQuiltz said...

Oh, and also, that quote from Bob is terrific! I have been working in the same pattern in my quiltmaking for several pieces now. LOVE it! Each time something different appears.

drw@bainbridge.net said...

You guys are so great; what fabulous comments to think about. And of course, you're right, Kim: I declared this to be my year of getting into heart and body, so it's not surprising that shows in my art.

And oh, Maureen, I can't believe you said that about injustice! Every job I've ever had that's gotten me into trouble (objecting to it, on behalf of others, not doing it!)

I thank God for my blog sisters. Daily. I love you both.

KimQuiltz said...

I joke that my daughter goes about her life in a constant state of Righteous Indignation, but, if I am honest with myself, I know just where she gets it from! :P

Joyce Wycoff said...

Diane ... I truly love your torso series and think of it as an identity thing as much as "headless or brainless." We recognize people mainly by their faces so the series of torsos has a very universal appeal calling me to look beyond the identity of faces. They move me so I hope you continue.

More about school in an email.