Point Gallery August 2015

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.

 

 

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.