Jennifer Davey Point Gallery

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.  

Shadow by Jennifer Davey

Shadow, 2015. Oil, chalk, and paper on canvas, 48 x 60 in.  Jennifer Davey  All Rights Reserved

Shadow, 2015. Oil, chalk, and paper on canvas, 48 x 60 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.

“Enemies are the main instigators of spiritual advancement”

His Holiness, The Dali Lama

SHADOW

n. A dark shape that appears on a surface when someone or something moves between the surface and a source of light.

n. A reflected image

n. An imperfect or faint representation.

v. to secretly follow or trail

v. to follow and watch someone doing a job in order to learn how to do the job yourself.

from Merriam Webster online

I start this series of writings by exploring the word SHADOW. It is one of the first paintings in which I began stenciling words directly on the surface of my work. It is appropriate to start with shadow because it feels like it matches the beginning of the creative process. I have an idea and a slight hint of direction, but mostly I am working in the dark, relying on my instincts to lead the way. In this painting, I began with the idea of exploring the shadow, or unconscious in contrast to the rational, known aspects of my mind.

Shadow is such a rich word. In its most benign definition, it is the tree that provides much needed coolness in the heat. One can also shadow a mentor, learning the in’s and out’s of a job in order to become proficient. In psychological terms, it represents those parts that we reject and refuse to acknowledge within ourselves, instead projecting them out onto others. In approaching this painting, I am thinking of shadow in psychological terms. It brings to mind opening a long neglected, dilapidated shed, over-full with old, moldy, ruined items. In opening it, it is absolutely overwhelming to think of clearing it out. There may be snakes, mice, mold, pools of stagnant water, and worse.  And my first response is to leave it for another day, or better yet, another decade, or pray for fire or flood, so I don’t have to deal with it at all. This is the shadow. Sticky, humbling, over-whelming, uncomfortable. Yet, I know that there is wisdom in examining this “shed.”  In fact, I would say there is dire and present necessity to examine, investigate and integrate the shadow both individually and collectively. Denial of the shadow comes at a great cost, because the shadow has energy regardless if we honor it or not. It is violence. It is ignorance. It is hate. It is over-consumption. It is judgment. In denial of the shadow, we deny part of our actions as humans, assuming that if we do not recognize it, it must not be true.  But sometimes the shed has to be cleared out.

And in this process of clearing out, I like to refer back to the positive definitions of shadow, that it can provide much needed shade on a hot day, or that we could shadow the workings of our own mind. In doing so we can learn in intimate detail how our mind actually works, thus becoming proficient and running “us.”  In exploring my shadow, I find that those neglected and rejected parts of myself actually have a purpose. By taking time to see and to approach the situation with love, their use becomes clear. This is the heart of peace and this is the treasure that lies within exploring the shadow.