imagery that I put on the reflective grid is concerned with the elemental
nature of energy. My imagery is the symbolic representations of the
fundamental patterns of energy. The most basic patterns that energy
is composed of are the dot, the wave form, radiating concentric circles,
radiating spikes (like the asterisk) and the spiral. All patterns
of the cosmos are combinations of these forms. These patterns compose
all things in the universe, including our bodies. I use the word symbolic,
for I see these forms acting on the human psyche in an archetypal
manner, imbedded into the very nature of our consciousness.
began organizing these symbols into center orientated symmetrical
geometric patterns. During the past 18 years of study I have discovered
many similarities between my patterns and the patterns of cultures
as diverse as American Indian, Amish, African, Islamic, Central and
South American, Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asian, Indian and numerous
others. The more I have explored geometric patterning , the more I
have become convinced that there is a universal visual language that
transcends time and place. Similarities between patterns from diverse
cultures are more striking than their differences. This has led me
to believe that geometric patterns are an intuitive universal language
that is archetypal and bridges the communication barrier in a way
that is impossible in either written or spoken languages.
Often my geometric patterns are perceived as mathematically and scientifically
derived. Math is the language developed by the observation of nature.
Math’s purpose is to describe it and to measure it. In its most
basic forms, math describes the fundamental patterns of nature. These
patterns are arrived at by a conscious, rational, reflective and analytical
process. My geometric patterns and much of the pattern work in other
cultures emerges from the intuitive process. Some, like the Gothic
and the Islamic, are a combination of both the intuitive and analytical.
The end results are surprisingly similar.
Meditating on the incredible similarities of geometric patterns from
global wide cultures, I realized the unifying factor is a deep spiritual
connection to a living presence. The Tibetan Buddhist Mandala, the
Gothic Rose window, Islamic tile patterns, and many folk traditions
emerge out of a culture’s visual expression of their mystical
connections. In addition to their connection to spirituality, I discovered
they were often composed of primary colors and light active materials.
These geometric patterns act as doors, windows and bridges, connecting
the individual and group to the unseen world. These patterns act on
us instinctually through the symbolic archetypal portal. They act
like tuning forks setting up a resonating vibration that brings our
soul into its harmonic. Our response to these geometric harmonics
is not an analytical act. Our body responds to them organically. Geometric
patterning is the universal language of the mystics. Mysticism is
about the transcendence of the mundane world, about the transcendence
of Western understanding of time and space, and about the transcendence
of the barriers between the individual and the infinite.
These patterns do, at times, take on a meaning of signage, with specific
meaning that can override the symbolic meaning. The swastika is a
case in point. Since these are such basic and important patterns,
in time the sign slips away and the archetypal meaning reemerges.
I see myself very much a product of Western society. I came to my
stylistic understanding not from following a cultural tradition, such
as a Turkish carpet maker might, but from a process of distancing
and reflecting on the world. I feel that I live in a culture that
has no traditions that reconnect an individual to the earth and one’s
ancestors, such as a Hopi Indian would have. As an artist, I continue
to build on the Western Cannon of art that began in the Renaissance.
The new ideas I have developed that enable me to express my epiphany,
are part of the tradition of the Modernist. Much of the abstraction
that has been created in the past 90 years, was developed to express
spiritual and mystical feelings. My set of intellectual structures
are built on top of theirs. What amazes me most about the framework
underlying my art, is not the similarities to the Modern abstractionist,
but the similarities to traditional designs from global wide cultures.
I feel like I have stumbled into something that brings Western thought
full circle, back to the source of ancient imagery. I think of the
Ouroboros, the snake that swallows his tail, thus completing a circle.
We, in the West, have struggled through periods alienation and separation
from life and the world. Recently, science has declared the world
alive, as expressed in the Gaia theory. Chaos theory has allowed us
to develop a mathematics that incorporates the irrational. We find
that which seems random is actually apart of a unified and organized
system. We are beginning to understand that if we do not take responsibility
to live in a harmonious way with the rest of the world, humans will
perish. And finally we are awakening to the fact that the seen world,
the world that we can observe, measure, and analyze is only half of
the universe. The unseen world of spirits, premonitions, emotions
and archetypes are equally as real, just harder to see.
Over a 20 year period these ideas have emerged from my artwork. My
current work is arranged in reflector grids of 15x15 up to 36x36.
I use two sizes of reflectors, 1” and 3”. By offsetting
them in layers, the imagery gains complexity. The large reflector
pieces are done in sizes of 4’x4’, 5’x5’,
6 1/2’x6 1/2’, 8’x8’, and 10’x10’
using the 3” reflectors as the foundation of the grid. I overlay
them with the 1” reflectors, adding another layer of complexity.
The smaller reflector pieces are structural studies of basic geometric
patterns. When these patterns are done in 3” reflectors, the
1” reflectors that are laid over the basic pattern, expand the
depth and breadth of the pattern. Since there is less information
to work with in the smaller pieces, they force discipline. The larger
pieces allow complex explorations of the patterns inherent in the
Getting to this current body of work has been a long evolutionary
unfolding. Dots and primary colors were used within the first year
of the development of this style. I also did a series of 127 drawings
in black and white. These line/dot drawings led to a deep exploration
of geometric patterns that became the basis of my imagery. During
this time, I painted on rocks and wooden poles as well as two dimensional
surfaces. I first started using reflectors because they delighted
me. I began by nailing hundreds of them on posts and fences around
my house. In time, they were integrated into my paintings on canvas.
By 1987, I made a connection with Sate-Lite in Niles, Illinois the
largest reflector manufacturer in the US. Initially, I combined reflectors
with glitter, creating paintings that were reflective and refractive.
11 years ago , I conceived the idea of layered reflector paintings
and was awarded a US patent.
This year I discovered a new determination and clarity of vision that
drives my current body of work. I know that it is a direction I could
explore for many years. The perimeters setting this style allow an
investigation into the breadth and depth of the ideas and thoughts
that impregnate this work.
The understanding of time and space in the West has led to linear
thinking. Single point perspective is a perfect visible expression
of a linear mental structure. It represents events that have happened
in the past as more distant from the viewer thus creating a hierarchy
of importance. That which is closest to the viewer is thought of as
most important. This supports the idea of progress, that we are moving
towards an ever emerging perfect world. It gives the West a sense
of superiority. What is happening in our time and space, since it
is closest to the picture plane of the now, must be what is important.
It makes less of all other human, plant and animal action, since they
are locked into activity that we have long since evolved beyond. This
belief that our consciousness is superior is the ultimate expression
of the West’s alienation from the presence of the living world.
When one is connected to the infinite self, the boundaries creating
the illusion of superiority are dissolved. We of Western heritage,
are not superior to, nor inferior to other human life. We are just
a part of the grand family of living forms contained within this incredible
thing we call Gaia, our planet, our home.
In some ways it doesn’t matter if the ideas that I have shared
with you are verifiable or not. What’s important is that I take
them seriously enough to create this body of work. The ubiquitous
nature of geometric patterning is overwhelming. But what is amazing
is the fact that Western fine art has ignored this form of visual
expression as a source for its inspiration. My contribution to art
is to bring the universal language of symbol, embedded in geometric
patterning, back into the world of Western art thinking. If geometric
patterning is a universal visual language that unites all humans in
a mystical grid, causing the West to rediscover this would be gratifying.
I envision a time when geometric patterning is as much a part of expression
in Western painting as realism. It would speak about a society that
is reconnecting with itself, becoming whole.
I see myself as a trail blazer. All artists pursue a trail. Realism
is the widest trail for artists of the Western tradition. There are
smaller trails like Abstract Expressionism, Surrealism and its many
Post Modern variations, Cubism, Impressionism, etc. At the beginning
of my trail, I encountered a lot of brush. My process of intuitive
groping was like cutting brush in a random zig zagy manner. Occasionally,
I came across a thinning of the brush which made me think that it
was a previously used trail. I realized that I never encountered any
trees. As I my trail grew in depth and breath , I understood that
I was on an ancient trail, one that had carried immense traffic at
one time. I was rediscovering a trail that much of humanity has traveled.
For some reason, Western society had turned its back on this road,
that is why there is so much brush that needs to be cleared.
An Epiphany is an Oh Wow experience, an experience
that slices through the world of the commonplace and allows one to
encounter the infinite. My work strives to emulate the Oh
Wow. It doesn’t matter if it is a big Oh Wow
or a small oh wow. If the work can inspire and delight,
touch the emotion of joy, then it is doing its job. That day, twenty
years ago, when I was drawing on the hill, I experienced the valley
through all my senses. It was a complete cognitive experience. The
rational side that separates me from what I encounter, was totally
dissolved. It became reconnected, not only with my senses and what
they sensed, but with the mysterious sides of my psyche, my subconscious,
intuitive, symbolic and emotional selves. This Gestalt experience,
the Oh Wow, is what my reflective paintings strive
to capture and to communicate.
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