“In many of her enthralling pieces the human form is a catalyst for exploring such themes as immateriality, metamorphosis, and transcendence.”
Wow, so this was really the height of the 1960s psychedelic revolution. What connection does your image making have with the other breakthroughs of those times, such as psychedelic rock and the explosion of awareness in psychedelic substances?
While I was familiar with the pre-psychedelic rock that was popular in 1966-7, my initiation into the psychedelic culture that day in San Francisco included attending a concert that featured Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Big Brother & the Holding Company. This was my first exposure to extended rock pieces and light shows that were mesmerizing and trance inducing. I had what they call a “contact high” that night. It was truly what Richard Tarnas might call a Promethean and Dionysian experience. I first experimented with marijuana and LSD the following year and this awakened me to the potential of entheogens for stimulating one’s own inner imagery. A mescaline experience in 1971 took me to what some call “I AM” consciousness. From then on my art became more mystical.
The deep heart and clarity in the work is very strong. Have you had any prophetic experiences with your work, or experiences whereby personal meanings or events symbolised in the work actually manifest later on?
Only one instance immediately comes to mind. In 1984, while living in New York, I arranged to learn the mische technique from Carlos Madrid. I did a sketch for my first painting “Lovers Dream Journey.” At this time I had just learned of Jungian picture analysis and took a Saturday workshop from a Jungian analyst. I took along the sketch to show him. While he thought the image had beauty, he also found it disturbing for two reasons. In this picture the movement is going towards the left, which the Jungians consider a movement from consciousness towards unconsciousness. Secondly the flying image of merged couples with eagle heads and foetus was ungrounded. I wonder if all flying images are seen this way. As this sketch was on tracing paper, I switched sides to see how it would look with the movement to the right, but didn’t like it. Thus I painted it as I originally sketched it. About a year after I made the sketch, my girl friend became pregnant. We were not in a good financial situation so I persuaded her to get an abortion, something I have never been very proud of. We soon broke up and I have largely lived a solitary life since. I have always wondered if the outcome would have been different had I painted the picture differently.
How do things manifest for you with the art? Are they primarily based on dream, vision, intentional engineering of composition or spontaneous surprises? What do you feel facilitates your own creativity?
First of all, to facilitate one’s creativity, the most important thing is to have an expanded mind. Not just from drug experiences, but from a deep exposure to the world of art, and an ever growing acquaintance with metaphysical ideas. The goal for any visionary artist should be to access what is deep and timeless within him/herself. If we do this then that vision that emerges will express itself through our individual uniqueness. We all begin slowly. Besides experimenting with drugs, I also read all kinds of books that were very stimulating in helping me awaken to a much greater set of realities. I read Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Carlos Castaneda, Hermann Hesse, channeled material from Jane Roberts and others, Robert Graves, Carl Jung, James Hillman, Yogananda, Daniel Andreev, and more recently Richard Tarnas. I made friends with a few psychics and learned something of the way they see things. Over the years I also connected with spiritual teachers and did spiritual workshops. This opened me up inwardly and provided me with many frames of reference.
When I first started doing art, I learned that marijuana was useful for stimulating surreal visual imagery in one’s mind. This was my first exposure to the power of the human psyche. I would jot down quick sketches of images that seemed to have substance. However once the drug effects wore off, these sketches didn’t always hold up. I began working in the collage medium in 1972. Working this way offered a different way of accessing the psyche, providing a multiple choice way of combining images, and freed me from the necessity of using drugs. I would combine different images in various ways in an attempt to find something that “worked.” Over time I gained a deeper understanding of symbols and became familiar with those that had real meaning and authenticity for me.
The combination of symbols expresses ideas. They help to define each other and make a larger statement. They offer the potential of creating an art laden with rich and substantive meaning. However this potential is contingent on the progress that one makes in their own spiritual development. I think in this respect I am still a novice. But my cut and paste collage creations were not quick juxtapositions of incongruous imagery, but rather painstaking efforts that sought a real poetic magic, something that mirrored my own soul.
I would say it is the same for my paintings. Some of these were inspired by collages. Others with the intent of expressing some metaphysical idea, where the vision slowly materialized as the painting progressed. More recently I have begun paintings by creating interesting textures, and then seeing what images these might conjure. I don’t recall that dreams have ever inspired any of my art creations, nor has intentional engineering ever worked..