Down the Rabbit Hole

Lewis Carroll, speaking through the mouth of the Cheshire cat and paraphrased here, said the following: “You must be (mad) or you wouldn't have come here.” 

This brilliantly sums up my experience with the creative process – madness. For to truly receive the muse, one must be willing to consider the unconsiderable, to peel away the layers of mass perception and see things as they truly are. This vision is a practice in awareness, of becoming. Containing it, redirecting it and articulating it back into the world is the gift of the artist, but it's a gift that can threaten to tear a maker apart. I accept this destruction of self, as it is essential to my practice, and use the remnants to fuel my resurrection into production. Or, as Francis Bacon once put it; “...I believe deeply in ordered chaos...”

From the outside, such an existence is as far from sane as one can get. But for one who was born into it, there is nothing more rational than the irrational

Thus, the nugget of my thesis.

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As I progress deeper into my project, I've begun to experience an eerily calm high -- a clarity of vision that I haven't had for quite some time. As things filter and come into focus, I am tempted to release my tether; relax the muscle that keeps me docked in this gray, banal tide pool of our left-brained, linear society. My senses are more acute here. There are no boxes to fit into, no masks or pretense to hide behind – only color, shape and vibration. 

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The shapes are the most interesting to me at the moment. From the inkblots I started with, I have discerned a number of compelling, dream-like images that hint at the figure, but are really unfiltered emotions trapped in corporeal form. These forms, I believe, echo the figures of Pompeii, which I once experienced in person during the winter of 1997. There is a fragility in those frozen moments that whisper in my ear, and on a primal level, have started informing the core of my work. Also, there is the notion of the body as a container -- literally a vessel, a shell. This in turn, calls to mind erosion, which speaks to the underlying sense of dehumanization and the loss of self that I am attempting to address here.

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This then, has brought me to the Cicada. On the one hand, it is a visual manifestation of the ceaseless drone I hear in the back of my mind, but it is also a personal signifier akin to the psychopomp. Naturally, this brings to mind images of ravens, which for me, ties into my cultural heritage as an Italian American. Of course, the Cicada, given its shape, has also come to represent my early dependence on mood stabilizers... 

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I have been rereading Kafka's "Metamorphosis" partly for inspiration but also as a way to keep my mind on track as I climb out of analysis and into production. First, I am exploring the idea of the figure closing itself off from it's environment – burrowing, suffocating. Then, breaking down the body metaphorically through the replication of the Cicada in overwhelming numbers... and on and on. For now, here are some more artists whose work intrigues me for one reason or another:

 Alina Szapocznikow

Alina Szapocznikow

 Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley

 Kiki Smith

Kiki Smith