Bound

Love by Jennifer Davey

Love 2015. Oil, chalk and collage on panel, 29 x 29 inches  Jennifer Davey all rights reserved

This 9 part blog series BOUND explores the inspiration behind the stenciled words used in my paintings for the exhibition BOUND at Point Gallery, Denver August 2015. In the series, I will share my musings on these words, what they mean to me and why I selected them to be included in these paintings: SHADOW,RATIONAL MINDCOCOONDISCERNMENTSCREENHIDDEN, BODY, LOVE, and BOUND

You are what you love and not what loves you - Kyle Cease

LOVE:

n: a feeling of strong or constant affection for a person

n: an assurance of affection

n: the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration

LOVE: A way over-stated, highly mis-understood word in Western culture. Using the word love in a painting seems risky because it instantly evokes hallmark card sweetness. Even looking up the definitions of love I realize how superficial our collective expectations of love sometimes are. The first definitions of love that appear online define love as something we get from another person. It is our "object of attachment" Yet, real love is risky, honest, awkward. It gets into the heart and mess of who you are inside. Love asks you to be more, give more, accept each and every part of yourself. Love at the Hallmark card level is light, sweet, ever on the trajectory upwards, always with a bow tied happy ending. When I looked up the etymology of love, the roots words were tied to actions not objects. From the Old English word lufu means love, affection, friendliness. Old high German liubi means joy. From Latin Libet means pleases. Lithuanian Liaupse means song of praise. These root words seem to get at the beautiful aspects of love that relfect actions that serve, actions that appreciate another, and honor the mysteries of life, whether it be in another person or in the miraculous details of everyday existence. Real love involves death and growth. Death to what you keep hidden. Death to inauthenticity. Death to fear. Death to cowardice, Death to wanting things to be simple, easy. Death to the desire for the fast track. Love is in it for the long haul and it is all about the razor edge of truth which reveals our fears but also rewards us with a generous and abundant life. 

Hidden by Jennifer Davey

Hidden, 2015. Oil, chalk and bark on panel, 29 x 29 in. Jennifer Davey   all rights reserved

This 9 part blog series BOUND explores the inspiration behind the stenciled words used in my paintings for the exhibition BOUND at Point Gallery, Denver August 2015. In the series, I will share my musings on these words, what they mean to me and why I selected them to be included in these paintings: SHADOW,RATIONAL MINDCOCOONDISCERNMENTSCREEN, HIDDEN, BODY, LOVE, and BOUND

"What are you hiding? No one ever asks that" 

Sara Vowell

Hidden: concealed, obscure, covert.

Hide: etymology: v. Old English-hydan, to hide, conceal, preserve, hide oneself, bury a corpse.

Hidden is a very rich word. On first glance, I feel it has a negative tone. I am hiding something and that is bad. But as I consider the meaning, I find a deep richness in its many layers. I also find where it may be useful to hide. Not all things must be readily transparent and easily accessible. Sometimes knowedge is hidden from us and it provides an opportunity to dig for the treasure that is hidden beneath our intitial perceptions. Sometimes hiding can be just like the Islamic jali screen, creating a protective barrier where what is valuable is kept inside while we can still perceive and view what is going on in the outside world. Thus to hide can also be powerfully positive.  Some things need protecting so that they can be revealed at the right time in their fully formed state. Painting is like this. I hide away from public view to create. This is a vulnerable time and I need to be hidden from criticism, praise, or outside influences of others. When the painting has been formed, the body of work fully coming to fruition, then it is time to reveal. The act of painting is always a balance between what is hidden and what is revealed and this is a very good thing. It was with these ideas in mind that I created this black painting with subtly readable text. On a walk on my way to the studio this spring, I found the piece of black bark. I loved its submarine like shape. I took it to the studio and flattened it under a large brick, hoping to find a way to incorporate it into a painting. A few months later, I was working on Hidden and knew that this would be the perfect addition to the painting. I attached it to the lower right corner. Its submarine shape was a perfect metaphor-a vessel that navigates hidden to most in the mysterious and unknown landscape of the deep ocean. The gold chalk lines provided illumination and stability in this very dark space. 

 

 

Bound by Jennifer Davey

 Bound, 2015. Oil, paper, and chalk on panel, Jennifer Davey  all rights reserved

Bound, 2015. Oil, paper, and chalk on panel, Jennifer Davey  all rights reserved

This 9 part blog series BOUND explores the inspiration behind the stenciled words used in my paintings for the exhibition BOUND at Point Gallery, Denver August 2015. In the series, I will share my musings on these words, what they mean to me and why I selected them to be included in these paintings: SHADOW,RATIONAL MINDCOCOONDISCERNMENTSCREENHIDDENBODY, LOVE, and BOUND

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality...I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.-Martin Luther King, Jr.

BOUND:
1. v walk or run with leaping strides
2. n a leaping movement upwards
3. adj tied: in bonds
4. adj destined, certain, sure
5. adj determined or resolved

Today it is apt to discuss the word BOUND as I prepare for the artist's reception tonight at Point Gallery for the exhibit of the same title, Bound. I selected Bound for the title of this show because of its double meaning of being constrained and also leaping upwards. Although I have often blamed my physical world for the limits and constraints I dislike, experience has taught me that the root of these physical manifestations are often in my mind. Fear, limits, and self-judgment, all inform how I act and show up in the world, which greatly impacts how my world looks. I can tell you that my current reality is shifting and expanding by leaps and bounds. This is not just by what I have changed externally, but what I have continually changed internally, learning to release old habits of fear, self-doubt, avoidance, and hiding my true self. It is in this context that I share with you my inspirations for the exhibit Bound. And if you are in Denver tonight, please stop by Point Gallery from 6-9pm and say hi! 

Bound is descriptive of both the constriction and freedom we can feel living in this human body. I want to know how to be free, full, radiant and alive, yet am trapped also by my shadow, failings, warts and unknown aspects of myself. It is this desire to know the divine that has lead me to researching the structure of the soul and psyche. What is underneath my everyday existence? What drives my choices, my behavior? What belief structures create my world?  It is through the unexpected appearance of words in my paintings that has provided the thread for this search. I have frequently used writing in my work, though up until now, it’s meaning has remained hidden to the viewer. The writing becomes muted through layers of paint, leaving only a hint of presence. Recently, however, I have begun to use stenciled words. The process of selecting and stenciling words became a clarifying force. It acted as a meditation, defining the painting as well as my search. It allowed me to contemplate the many layers of meaning behind each word. Words are sacred. They have a lineage and ancestry that can help us understand our place in the world. I want the viewer to experience the word like the sound of a meditative bell, a call to contemplate its meaning. It is directly because of the physical, bound elements of our life, exactly as they are, that we can know the divine through awareness, attentiveness, and love of both the beautiful and the ugly.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwFsC6Tiix0

 

SCREEN by Jennifer Davey

Screen, 2015. Oil on panel, 48 x 48 in.  Jennifer Davey  all rights reserved

This 9 part blog series BOUND explores the inspiration behind the stenciled words used in my paintings for the exhibition BOUND at Point Gallery, Denver August 2015. In the series, I will share my musings on these words, what they mean to me and why I selected them to be included in these paintings: SHADOW,RATIONAL MINDCOCOON, DISCERNMENT, SCREEN, HIDDEN, BODY, LOVE, and BOUND.

screen:

1. a protective or ornamental device shielding an area from heat, drafts, or view

2. Something that shelters, protects, or hides

3. a system for examining or separating into different parts

4. a flat surface onto which a picture or series of pictures is projected or reflected. 

5. the surface on which an image appears in an electric display.

My original inspiration for the painting Screen came from travels to both Southern Spain and India. Visiting the many Islamic influenced structures, and particularly the Alhambra in Grenada, I was mesmerized by the delicate jali screens. Made of repetitive Islamic geometric patterns hand cut into marble, these screens would divide space within palace walls. Often their purpose would be to allow women to look out without being seen by those on the outside. These screens created a protective veil, evoking an airy sense of mystery. Even 10 years later, I can still feel the sense of wonder I had walking inside these spaces. It was like entering an inner sanctum. It was light, spacious and delicate yet strong and protective all at the same time. It was beautiful, mysterious, and lush.  I wanted to create a painting that had that feel of holding something beautiful behind a screen or layer. 

But as I began to contemplate the word screen, I quickly came to the more relevant meaning of the word today-the screens of our many electronic devices that continuously draw us in to a digital world. They connect us to places, faces and knowledge that would be unfathomable just 50 years back. Screens have become so imbedded in our daily life it seems difficult to imagine how we existed before our ability to connect across the globe electronically. The marble screens housed in the Alhambra and the electronic touch screen of an iphone seem worlds apart.

Yet, I see a connection. The similarity between the Islamic hand-cut marble screen and a digital screen is seduction. They both seduce us into a space, creating a shield from the outside world. Sometimes it as if a invisible screen has gone up around any individual sucked into their cell phone or tablet. Their energy and attention is in this other space, a private conversation between them and the digital world. Yet in this interaction between screen and human, the connection seems fleeting and often more disconnected than connected.

This is in contrast to my experience physically walking from outside of the palace to inside the screened enclosure as my senses awakened. The experience evoked a sense of awe, and a sense of peace that was fully alive in that moment. I am not sure I have ever experienced something similar through the screens of my devices.

And yet, I just had a miraculous but different moment. At the very moment I was typing this I received a facebook message from the artist Michael Pointer with a picture of him standing in front of my painting at Point Gallery.

 Michael Pointer at Point Gallery 8.14.15

Michael Pointer at Point Gallery 8.14.15

In an instant I knew he was in Denver at the gallery. We have only ever communicated via our screens as he lives in Kansas. What a small miracle it is to make this human connection via the screen! And an incredibly timely example that our life with screens are complex and multi-layered bringing amazing gifts of connection along with great challenges of disconnection. How do we balance this vast accessibilty to knoweldge, information, and people around the globe with our ability to relate to the real people and places that exist in our everyday physical life? The inspiration for the painting screen sprang from a very historical, physical source, but has flowered into an exploration of a current and everyday experience-our relationship with our screens. The word screen holds multiple meanings and hits directly on a very real challenge of living in the year 2015 with 1 in every 5 humans on the planet owning a smartphone and able to connect across the globe.  

DISCERNMENT by Jennifer Davey

This 9 part blog series BOUND explores the inspiration behind the stenciled words used in my paintings for the exhibition BOUND at Point Gallery, Denver August 2015. In the series, I will share my musings on these words, what they mean to me and why I selected them to be included in these paintings: SHADOW,RATIONAL MINDCOCOONDISCERNMENTSCREENHIDDENBODYLOVE, andBOUND.

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see

Henry David Thoreau

Discern: v.tr. to perceive clearly with the mind or senses

Discernement: n. good judgment or insight

Discernment: the process of sorting and sifting. Discerning is often associated with having discerning taste-related to sophistication, wealth or status, but that is not how I mean it. I mean it in a way of assessing a situation, weighing truth or error, and then making a decision. The root Latin word is DISCERNERE meaning to separate, set apart, or divide. Dis has the root meaning off or away and gets at the heart of effective discerning: detachment. Cernere means to distinguish, separate or sift. Through detachment, my ability to see clearly expands and my skills for sifting and sorting become easier. I am searching for wisdom. In a sense, discernment feels like an old-fashioned term. Today’s judgments and evaluations are made quickly, often through the screen of social media. We don’t take the time to learn and know what is going on at a deeper level. Discernment is about taking time to really understand the situation. What are the forces at play? How did something come to be? Time and re-evaluation are key components of this process. Discernment is an antidote to our 10-day news cycle, Facebook likes, and instant evaluation culture. It is a call to pause, look deeper, and understand the situation before acting or judging. 

Cocoon by Jennifer Davey

Cocoon, 2015. Oil, chalk, pencil and collage on panel, 48 x 48 in.   Jennifer Davey  all rights reserved

This 9 part blog series BOUND explores the inspiration behind the stenciled words used in my paintings for the exhibition BOUND at Point Gallery, Denver August 2015. In the series, I will share my musings on these words, what they mean to me and why I selected them to be included in these paintings: SHADOW,RATIONAL MINDCOCOONDISCERNMENTSCREENHIDDENBODYLOVE, and BOUND.

Cocoon

I decided to use the word COCOON specifically to spend time contemplating the psychological change and internal transformations that have been occuring within me. 

My new studio space (January 2015) reflects the first layer of a metaphorical cocoon. Deep in the basement of a hundred year old building, just walking down the stairs and entering my studio I feel I am in a protective cocoon. I can explore and be quiet, letting inspiration lead me in new and different directions. It creates the space for my voice to be strong and clear. I am in a space that is invisible to others eyes or judgments and it allows me to think clearly.  

The second layer of the cocoon has been a to create a psychological space where I could examine the roots of my thinking. For the enitre body of work for the exhibit BOUND, I posed the following questions to myself: What operating system was driving my actions? How did my feelings influence my decisions? What was my default navigating system? Whenever I enter my studio I spend time being quiet. I want to understand how my body, mind and spirit work. Where are they working in conjunction? Where are they arguing? This kind of questioning and examination needs a protective cocoon where I can look honestly and privately within myself to find answers. 

I initially stenciled the words COCOON vertically down the painting formerly known as Spacious. Using an older painting provided another layer of metaphorical transformation. I specifically chose vertical placement of the letters to mimic the verticality of a cocoon. The foil collage to the left reminds me of a spine or the 7 chakras. Although visually I liked the painting, it did not feel like a cocoon. I then added a layer of velum over the text. The idea was matched up with cocoon, but visually I did not like it. The idea to 'create a cocoon" was just that, an idea. It had yet to become integral to the painting. The final painting emerged after removing most but not all of the velum attached with glue and masking tape. I added a red chalk line to the right of the painting. An emerging life line, again spoke to the verticality of the human body, but this time in spirit. There are also 2 central pencil lines, creating a stable center to the painting. Everything visually about this painting is delicate, which I find interesting. I see radical trasformation that can happen quietly and delicately.