Visionary Painting is a very broad term that many people claim. In my opinion they are all valid but they are all not the same.
I am not borrowing other’s philosophies that speak to me and making illustrative collages with known images in order to communicate my cause. This is fine, it is a form of communication and it can spread ideas. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not what I do.
I am not envisioning an ideal world and painting it. This is a valid process and can stimulate awareness and even change, but… not what I do.
I am not looking at the world outside of me and painting my vision of it, art like this can be very beautiful and stirring, but it’s not what I do.
What I do is something different. I am not the only one, but I think we’re not very mass-market popular. We are not commerce driven because this work isn’t pretty and it’s a hard sell. We are not academic because we rely on our intuition and mysterious processes much more than our intellect. We sometimes don’t mirror the accepted academic stance on issues, we sometimes do. Sometimes I have no idea where we fit, but I know it when I see it. We do our work in private, making sense of the world by listening to the muse of the spirit world giving us messages that are difficult to decipher. We “put them out there” when we deem them ready. I have had to remind myself over and over again not to comprimise this, even if I never get recognition, attention or money for what I paint. When I remember that, I am rewarded greatly by the process itself.
So, why share it at all? I guess I just get pretty excited about it. I feel like a consciousness talks to me when I’m painting and I get very enthusiastic about that. It feels like a wider and more expansive consciousness that I have in other areas of life. So it’s sometimes hard to understand completely, especially when I first hear it. It’s a bit like dreaming while awake. I want others to look and maybe see it, maybe not. At this point 90% or more of you may be dismissing me as delusional, flaky or both. But I’m ok, I function as well as most. I am not convinced my thoughts are always clear or realistic, but they are not any more delusional that anyone elses belief systems. (in my humble opinion)
I actually feel these “conversations” help me function better. But only when I keep them balanced wth the rest of my existence.
When I was a very young child I dreamt I was on a boat, heading to a big destination with my family. I think we were moving our residence. During the trip a psychotic doctor was turning everyone into skeletons. I hid and was able to escape, but I was terrified. The rest of my family were skeletons. I was torn between trying to save them and staying hidden. I had no idea how to save them. I didn’t want to be a skeleton. I woke up with the dilemma unresolved, a fearful wakening in the middle of the night. I will never forget it.
This symbolism is the subject of this painting and of a solo show I have scheduled for a year from now. (The show is at UW-Fox Valley in Menasha, WI) I have decided to name the show “Usha” after my imaginary alter-ego I developed when I learned my Hindi name.
Usha is a character who resolves issues for me through stories. They are stories I have never shared publicly, but they mean a great deal to me. Literary World-wise they are not ready, well-written or completely resolved enough to publish, in my opinion. But they really help me think…
This particular painting finds water and oil interacting. The skeleton is from my dream, and my skeleton drips oils from all it’s limbs. I don’t yet know where Usha fits into this, but I know she will. She is coming out of the many layers, like the dresses I make. She is hiding behind the ancestors, she is flowing in the water. She wants to save the skeletons but she is afraid. It just takes time. For now there is water and it runs through the skeletons mouth, trying to bring it back to life, but it seeps through and waters the wheels of a great and powerful machinery. The thing is that the water never stops flowing, even after the machines have stopped.
The ancestors keep watch. They are witnesses to it all, but they cannot be heard by most. What is it they want to say? Can we listen?
I believe Usha will appear and she will help me once again understand my role. It might be in a dream. It might be a story that comes to me. It might be the next time I am painting this. I hope I have the answer soon, because I feel helpless and afraid sometimes, not knowing how to act and not react to the times and events we are all living through.
I feel that I know more than I knew before I had the vision, but I certainly don’t have any answers. Just feelings, images and more questions.