Artist Statement

My recent artwork explores negotiations of space, objecthood, painting and language as elements in relationship with transcendent experience. Formal aspects of Minimalism, hardedge abstraction, and the light and space movement synthesize with mystical icons, diagrammatic images, crystalline structures, and countercultural self-realization tools or texts. I investigate visual languages both spiritual and secular to get at the buried grain of empirical truth.

My artistic practice emerges from the liminal space of the rational and the irrational. I am consistently attracted to the diagrammatic or instructional, but find it paradoxically fascinating when paired with experiences that qualify as transcendental. How can a manual be written for ineffable experiences? What signifiers are affiliated with the mystical? Furthermore, how does communication illuminate or obfuscate experience? I am especially interested in gaps or slippage between experience and description as it reveals the mutability of reality.

Throughout my work, boundaries of painting, sculpture and text are blurred: paintings become freestanding objects, two-dimensional diagrams become dimensional structures, and light-reflecting patterns reveal encoded text. Perceptually sensitive materials such as reflective metallic surfaces, radiant florescent paint, or light-refracting crystals heighten awareness and shifting appearance. These formal elements open philosophical inquiries of consciousness, phenomenology, the sublime, semiotics, essence and appearance-- but moreover, they ask the viewer to be present with experience.

 

Effing the Ineffable

“I’m in the business of effing the ineffable.”
Alan Watts

in-ef-fa-ble 1. incapable of being expressed; indescribable or unutterable. See synonyms at unspeakable. 2. Not to be uttered; taboo: the ineffable name of God. [Middle English, form Old French, from Latin ineffabilis: in-, not; see in- + efabilis, utterable (from effari, to utter: ex-, ex- + fari, to speak.]
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

“Ineffability is concerned with ideas that cannot or should not be expressed in spoken words (or language in general), often being in the form of a taboo or incomprehensible term. This property is commonly associated with philosophy, aspects of existence, and similar concepts that are inherently "too great", complex, or abstract to be adequately communicated. In addition, illogical statements, principles, reasons, and arguments are intrinsically ineffable along with impossibilities, contradictions, and paradoxes.“
Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia

The previous Alan Watts quote is alluded to by the title of my presentation for its simultaneously high-minded, earnest, humorous and impossible positions, all of which I affiliate with my role as artist. Watts was a British writer and philosopher whose works are often credited for popularizing ideas of Eastern philosophy in the West. His influential works introduced Zen philosophy, meditation, and considerations on the nature of being and self-exploration to the 1960’s American counterculture. This youth movement embraced new methods to expand consciousness that included political activism, anti-war protests, love-ins, gurus, meditation, and the psychedelic counterculture.

Of primary interest is the contradiction and impossibility built into Watts’ statement. “Ineffable” is a word used to connote experiences or phenomena that defy articulation or precise description. So to speak of the ineffable is a contradiction of terms, like trying to recreate the sublime. Second, Watts uses “eff” as an invented root or inverse of the ineffable. Yet it is a bit more complex; “eff” is not a definable dictionary word, but it does have a slang use as an accepted stand-in for another unnamable-- a vulgar word. This word choice allows humor, slang, and ambiguity to enter the statement. Is Watts creating his own word, or suggesting the vulgarity of his efforts toward realizing the impossible?  Thirdly, there is “the business of”, where to an extent, Watts acknowledges the enterprise of his interests and the suggested dichotomy of  the worldly and the transcendent. I find these multilayered paradoxes and ambiguities resonant in my own work and process. My work explores signifiers of transcendent experience, ambiguities of embodied perception, and the convergence of the rational and the irrational.

 

 



 
 

 

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