In the Garden of the Mystical Redoubt
Mystical realization is defined by the denial and even denigration of the experience of self. Mysticism holds that personal emotion, attachment and sensual, human love are all the mark of ignorance, and tether us to the “human;” while mystical attainment, which attempts to deny the “I” and move to some airy region where personality is diaphanous and emotion untouchable, somehow leads us toward God’s ultimate purpose.
Frankly put, this is wrong.
After all, if the universe bequeathed us anything, it certainly gave us our tendencies. If we believe that it is our ultimate purpose to outrun these tendencies through a kind of mystical repression, this seems fallacious and illogical. This universe has created us in a certain manner and, as such, it is through our very human quirks and five senses that we can most clearly come in contact with the universe that birthed us. The desire to turn tail and hide beneath some absurd cloak of non-action is just a deeper form of human ignorance.
These works explore the horror of classical mystical attainment – cold, lonely, miserable, unloved, terrifying, insanity producing and just plain wrong. I have created a series of 85 different images representing mystical “adepts” in various stages “on down a garden path” towards personal, ego dissolution.
Artist Bio / CV
I am an artist/activist who has shown my work in galleries and museums around the United States and in Europe. My work concerns the confused spiritual state in which we find ourselves in this post-modern era, and how we might find meaning in this cultural morass of “reality” TV shows and lying politicians.
As part of my ongoing investigation of how to make art relevant to the greater society, I have worked in conjunction with Amnesty International, International Peace Research Association, Peace and Justice Studies Association, Irish Centre for Human Rights, UNESCO Center for Peace, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and other activist organizations. I have published numerous academic articles tracing the influence of Sufism on the development of Jewish mysticism during medieval times, as well as exhibiting my art and discussing my ideas at such institutions as George Washington University, Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Franklin and Marshall College, Eastern Carolina University, Hood College, Ohio University, Manhattan College and Antioch College. My work is in collections at the Irish Centre for Human Rights; Contemporary Art Museum of Montecatini, Italy; Portland (OR) Community College; George Washington University; Georgetown University Hospital; HNTB Architecture, and the Summit Art School. I have been awarded monetary grants and other support from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation (NY), Sugarman Foundation (CA), Nelson Talbott Foundation (MD), Puffin Foundation (NJ), New York Foundation for the Arts (NY), Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (MD) and Amnesty International.
Out of all of this work, I have developed a theory entitled: “Prophetic Activist Art,” an idea that I have presented at art, peace and human rights conferences around the United States and Canada.