For me, art has always been a language, a way of communicating the intricate experiences of our human existence. My theological studies and personal experiences of faith have given this language depth and nuance, enabling me to express what often seems ineffable. Though this journey of introspection and exploration has been a personal one, its reflections have found resonance in a wider context.
Finding my artwork on the cover of the June 2023 issue of Presence, a quarterly journal published by Spiritual Directors International (SDI), feels like a natural meeting point of two parallel journeys—mine as an artist and SDI's as a community of spiritual guides. Over the past twenty-nine years, they have committed to creating an inclusive environment for those seeking spiritual companionship, uniting people across faiths, nations, and traditions. Their work, much like the labyrinthine journey embarked upon by a spiritual director, involves accompanying seekers through the complex mire of aged beliefs, thereby fostering an environment conducive to transformation. As an artist who's practice is deeply rooted in theology, this mission resonates with me. My work subtly echoes the intricate interplays of such divine guidance—a facet intrinsic to our spiritual quest—mirroring the transformative journey in visual form.
Born from contemplation, the artwork titled #42514e navigates this sacred pathway. Influenced profoundly by Plato's allegory of the cave, I realised the striking similarities between this philosophical construct and the spiritual voyage we embark on—trapped in a realm of shadowy perceptions, we gradually move towards the profound world, where divine and earthly realms intertwine seamlessly. Nestled within this existential journey, I sought to bring to life an artwork that tells a tale—a guiding companion that nudges towards a more profound reality. I remember the birth of this series, a culmination of divine musings and existential introspection, a product of my journey in faith and theology.
In this painting, I endeavoured to construct a world—yet, not a world in its customary sense. I depicted the wilderness, a realm embodying the world in its most elemental state. Much like a spiritual journey, where initial understandings often shroud the truth, I gradually distorted these forms, unveiling them as mere reflections of reality. This transformation mirrors life’s inherent complexities—challenging our beliefs and guiding us towards richer, deeper truths.
The echoes strewn across the canvas like a metaphorical cloth invite viewers to "see" and "divide" the world—offering introspective spaces amidst their personal cognitive disarray. The painting hints at the tension that exists between the downfall of one world and the struggle to birth another—a process of unlearning and relearning, deconstruction and reconstruction. Each individual's choice—to remain amidst the wreckage or venture into the void unknown—requires a leap of faith. Yet, regardless of ones decision, there is a sense that a guiding force is ever present, patiently waiting to shepherd them towards rebuilding and integration when the time is ripe.
The role of spiritual directors in our journey is akin to a guide in this wilderness, providing companionship and guidance when the path seems uncertain. Their role is not to provide all the answers, but to encourage us to navigate our way, pushing us to question, introspect, and discover our spiritual truth. This comparison is not meant to equate the two experiences, but rather to highlight the shared element of guided exploration that is central to both.
Embracing darkness in this exploration is audacious but crucial—it is not merely a realm to fear or avoid but a space brimming with potential richness. Synonymously, woven into the artwork is a challenge to the common perception of darkness—it is not merely a synonym for despair but a space for seeking and, potentially, finding. My intent through this series views darkness holistically—not as light’s adversary but its necessary counterpart. Experiences like uncertainty, loss, and despair, though unsettling, offer an unparalleled potential for personal and spiritual growth. By acknowledging and embracing these experiences, we can cultivate resilience, compassion, and a more authentic faith.
In its essence, the void represents an exploration of darkness—in both tangible and abstract forms—urging us towards a more expansive and inclusive spirituality. One where darkness is not merely the absence of light but a realm teeming with divine presence and possibility.
In that sense, the creation of art parallels the practice of spiritual direction—both delve into human experience's complexities, participating in a dance between the visible and invisible. In navigating the beautiful chaos of personal spiritual transformation, they offer a way to move beyond our understanding's shadows into the light of profound belonging. My work pays tribute to this spiritual journey, visually exploring faith's winding paths, and acknowledging those who guide us along the way. Every artwork in this series holds a part of me, a fragment of my journey, and my deep reverence for those who assist us in navigating our spiritual wilderness. My hope is that it resonates with viewers—serving not only as an artwork but also a companion through their own spiritual journey.
SDI is a global learning community, a melting pot of individuals from numerous faiths and nations, bound by shared enthusiasm for spiritual companionship. Diligently serving their community for almost three decades, they have fostered spiritual growth and connection through educational events, publications, and outreach programs. With over six thousand members worldwide, representing more than fifty spiritual traditions, SDI's mission is simple yet profound—to tend the holy around the world and across traditions.
For those eager to delve deeper into the global learning community that SDI has nurtured over the past twenty-nine years, visit www.sdicompanions.org.
* For more information about the artwork, please contact www.artporters.com