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Depicting the afterlife and spiritual entities isn’t fully possible I feel, though I certainly try. It’s like trying to describe what you see in your neighbor's yard by looking only through a tiny hole in the fence. You garner some understanding but you can’t totally comprehend the whole yard. I know the afterlife is there, but I don’t so much have all the answers. I’ve loved and lost so many dear friends, relatives, and strangers. Creating work that dips into the afterlife is a great comfort, and an ode that I want to share with others.
It is inevitable that I will die. Even you, too, will die. Though death is easy, dying is hard. What comes after is easier, escapes logical comprehension, is more colorful, vibrant, and unusual. The afterlife is asomatous, outlasting the physical. It is filled with spiritual beings — angels, demons, our loved ones departed, and all manner of spirits. In life spirits guide the eye, constantly giving us information, hints, clues into our lives and what lies for us after. If you allow yourself to be sufficiently receptive, then the premonitions, omens, dreams, visions, signs, and symbols reveal their inherent significance.
Everything has spiritual significance, whether it relates to events within your life or contains information beyond life, that is determined by the individual. I constantly count things wherever I go, recording anything that seems significant and correlating it with an event later on. The number, color, time, place, and object itself is important to me and finds its way into my work. It is the way I live and the way I create.
❤ Seven ravens in a churchyard,
❤ Skull carved into a chair,
❤ Three fresh tree stumps next to a river,
❤ First strawberry pulled out of its carton is rotten,
❤ Dead dove on the train tracks,
❤ Black heart-shaped leaf in an empty salad bowl,
❤ Three bells won as a prize from a game
Death pervades my mind just as much as the beauty of flowers do. My heart and mind are an even mix of darkness, sadness, longing with childlike flirtation, sweetness, and vibrancy. From paintings to performance to ceramics, I balance playfulness in color and form with the heaviness of dark subject matter. I like to imbue death with life, dark with light, sad with happy. I want to make sense of death and what happens to our loved ones who leave us. I want spirits to give me answers.
Symbols are keys to personal experiences that act like a stone pathway in a garden. They are solid, tangible, recognizable. My paintings garden esoteric, personal, and universal symbols that are meaningful, but understanding them isn’t necessary to enjoy the afterlife playground I paint. Birds, teeth, hands, suns, 3, black clouds, ulcers, 13, faces, horns, 7, masks, babies, my birth time, flowers, and eyes all creep their way in and out of everything I do. If spirits can share secret glimpses of death and the afterlife with me then maybe I can share what I intuit through painting, ceramics, and performance with them, and with you.
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Radcliffe, Colin J., "Death is Easy, Dying is Hard" (2016). Senior Projects Spring 2016. 445.
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