The Walls Between Us
Center for Visual Art, Metropolitan State University of Denver
August 14-October 17, 2020
Artist Talk: September 8, 2020 @ 6:40pm
Biology of a Wall, 2020
BIOLOGY OF A WALL
In Biology of A Wall, the magnitude of life itself is allowed to unfold, a re-invention, a familiar wormhole where all parts of life are interconnected, a complex tapestry for life’s amazing yet ordered variety, and a platform to ultimately express gratitude for all living things. “We see and are seen by the images half-hidden in the walls, veiled by a mineral sheath that mimics human skin in its fragility and transparency. “( Eleni Sikelianos)
A human life time passes in a geological blink of the eye. The rock is split to reveal a treasure. The phenomena of the universe lies buried in a rock, in layers of mica embedded deep inside the earth. The strata on top preserves the layers that were deposited originally, detailed images integrate the whole picture as if directly printed on rock, a cross-section of an instant in time, a moment when many parts of consciousness collide and re-form. Like a near death experience, where meaningful inventories flood the consciousness in one dazzling moment, there are no set definitions or static ways to view the images in Biology of A Wall. What one person sees is their own unique experience of the images that resonate with them. The mica has been thinly sliced, leaving a transparent stone through which to filter reality. It is as if the veils have been lifted to reveal the nature of things. I am intrigued by the versatility and dichotomy between the seemingly disparate properties of mica, the transparent and protective nature, the way it simultaneously acts like a lens and a shield. The wall is a place to catalogue, digest, and unify one’s states of being. All images are equal to one another; there is no hierarchy. A single thought can come into focus one moment and the next, fade into a bigger picture. At the root of quantum physics there is an unlimited number of realities existing simultaneously as the vastness of the universe culminates in one unified spiritual experience.
Included in the inventory of images are: alchemical images, medical and anatomical drawings, labyrinths, microscopic cellular images, musical scores, refugees, shapeshifters, erotica images, poetry, botany, geology, astronomy, astrology, cosmology images, patterns in nature, mythological animals, mandalas, maps of the world, yoga positions, cabinets of curiosities, film stills, dancers and choreography maps, family photos, alembics, occult symbols, architectural photos & blueprints, photos of The Wailing Wall, images from the legacy of the civil rights movement, Tibetan Tantric and Native American symbology, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Indian miniatures, Hindu Gods & Goddesses, Japanese scroll painting, Renaissance paintings, Muybridge photographs, Kabbalah diagrams, Buddhist symbols and deities, Celtic designs, Calligraphy and graphic design, Surrealist, modern, folk, classical Greek, Aboriginal art, children’s drawings, children’s book illustrations, cartoons, weaponry, ethnic portraits, costumes and artifacts, walls of gardens and buildings, light, sound and water walls, agricultural images, portraits of Dalai Lama, Jane Goodall, Louise Bourgeois, etc., the Covid 19 molecule, quantum physics illustrations, shells, minerals, flowers, textiles, bird nests, bridges, mountains, constellations, and the wonders of the world….
The juxtaposition of the negative and positive attributes of a wall will eventually lead the viewer to a crack within the wall but also perhaps in parallel with their own psyche, symbolizing the long overdue, global piercing of the veil which blinds many of us to the liberation which lies inside. As Leonard Cohen writes, “The crack is how the light gets in…”
Here, the crack represents the longing to transcend destructive barriers based upon cultural, racial, gender, religious, economic and social differences. By exposing everything, all biological facts and societal realities, we are presented with the choice to blow apart preconceived notions, to see through the veil, literally and figuratively, to allow the crack between conceptual polarities to fall away and illuminate a more comprehensive vision.
In this space of magnified perspective, one may stumble upon a divine proportion of sorts, the golden ratio, a universal measurement which exists among us all, at all times. By acknowledging the wisdom inherent to the cellular construction of our bodies, we see that each cell, tissue, organ and organ system of our bodies are exemplary of a thriving ecosystem composed of countless divisions, including wall-like structures. Do the patterns in the constellations of stars reflect on the minute particulars inside the human body? If we move beyond the confines of the ever-present differences among us and the categorical boxes which contain and cage us, a wall can serve as a positive departure point from which we may expand, grow, create, and connect with others. Our bodies, our skin, our membranes hold back disease; They are vessels of embodied pleasure and pain, simultaneous containers of joy and sorrow, abundance and loss. Limitations are often seen as negative. However, in order to create, one needs a container: A canvas, the prose of a poem, the acoustic architecture of an opera house. Similarly, to live, one needs a vessel: the body and its endless protective layers and beneficial membranes. And to connect, one needs boundaries.
To glimpse beyond the seemingly impenetrable barriers of a wall with its inclusive, separating, polarized, and black and white qualities as we all too often experience them, without space for nuances or osmosis, there is neither the opportunity for the exchange of ideas or ideations. Walls are all around us; It is our choice to create and maintain boundaries drawn with grace or to construct walls upon foundations of hate. To quote the great Lebanese-American poet, Kahlil Gibran, “Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls….Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together; For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
The wall of a tree is bark, of an orange, a rind, of an egg, a shell, of a seed, a sheath
The wall of the earth is its fiery mantle.
The wall of a human is their fragile skin, an animal, their sought-after pelt
The wall of an insect is its exoskeleton.
The wall of a letter is a fold, of a paragraph, a margin
The wall of a sentence is a period or a pause.
The wall of a book is its cover, of a television, a screen, of a phone, radio silence
The wall of a computer is a virus.
The wall of a car is its body, of a road, a curb. of traffic, a bottleneck
The wall of a destination is a dead-end.
The wall of a building is a façade, of a house, a structure, of a room, a divider
The wall of a door is a jam.
The wall of the ocean is the shore, of an island, a levee, of a lake, a dam
The wall of a river is a bank.
The wall of a face is a veil, of an individual, their persona
The wall of a fetus is the placenta.
The wall of a present is a self-absorbed wrapping, of the past, the inability to forgive
The wall of the future is one-dimensional thinking.
The wall of a relationship is a checkmate.
The wall of a soul is actually not a ghost, but the absence of connection.
The wall of an argument is a gridlock. The wall of a game is a tie,
A wall of fat is a layer, of a cell, a membrane.
A wall of tissue is a protection.
A wall of light is an aura, of sound, a barrier
A wall of water is a wave.
The wall of a hurricane is the still point in the turning world, of a tornado, a vacuum.
The wall of a flood is water.
The wall of a mountain is dirt, of a cliff, a precipice
The wall of a glacier is climate change.
The wall of the sun is an eclipse, of fire, lack of oxygen
The wall of the universe is a galaxy, of a star, a black hole
The wall of a black hole is infinity.
The wall of a diamond is a flaw, of coal, poison
The wall of oil is a dependency.
The wall of anger is lack of creativity.
The wall of history is ignorance.
The wall of racism is fear.
The wall of fear is the absence of love.
But what if a wall of fog was a shroud?
What if the wall of government is a prison, of a business, a booby trap?
What if a barricade acts as a deadly separation?
What if the wall behind a smile is a sugar coating?
What if the wall of a relationship is too much familiarity?
What if the wall of perception is an evolving practice?
What if the wall of vision is not blindness, but lack of imagination?
What if the wall of history is not “his” story, but all our collective stories?
What if the wall of privilege was dismantled by awareness?
We see and are seen.
The walls of our fragile bodies can be exposed, the chambers of our hearts opened.
The diseases around us, Covid 19 as well as the racism, sexism, classism
are forever mutating, causing us to examine our fears head on.
Rather than hide behind the walls of separation,
We can stand united,
with walls and without them.
5,036 mica overlays and images mounted on wood
20,144 brass nails
Dimensions: 8 ft x 8 ft x 32 in.
Time Spent creating: 6 months