Among & Within: The Animistic Spirit
The body of my thesis consists of works that call attention to 21st century environmental issues viewed through a deep ecological filter. I look to animism and posthumanism to flesh out the philosophical backbone that supports the imagery in my paintings. Both reexamine ideas of “personhood,” acknowledging that the word “person” is not limited only to human beings but also includes “others.” Anything—all others—who are social (even if not always sociable) are persons. This can include animals, plants, and even such things as souls, glaciers, and rocks. Most importantly, “persons” are those who interact, relate, and communicate. In this way, persons posses a spiritual life force or sacred power and are respected. Animism, much like modern deep ecological philosophies, is most concerned with learning how to be a good person in respectful relationship with other persons. This ideology is becoming paramount in recent times as posthumanists attempt to redirect ingrained speciesist notions and learned humanist hierarchies so that we can reexamine our relationships and treatment of other species and our environment.
My work uses these animistic ideas and deep ecological practices to immerse the viewer into nature while permitting thought on a more fundamental plane, one that does not allow for only anthropocentric concerns to prevail. Standing among other-than-human persons (the subjects of my paintings)—while also immersing oneself within these persons (looking through their eyes)—allows for the viewer to know viscerally and empathetically, the pain of the world and its inhabitants. My hope is that this interaction may rekindle the human-nature relationship and awareness of the spirit that exists within all nature and beings.
My paintings are also an understanding of my own ecological and metaphysical self. I paint not only because of my own identification with this subject matter, but also because of the sadness, the permanent grief I experience, when discovering what humanity has done to the Earth and the truth of the present state of the environment and its creatures. Painting gives me solace, so that what I have learned doesn’t eat away at my soul and helps me—and hopefully the viewers—better connect to other-than-human-persons and know their intrinsic values.