I deconstruct highly sexualized images of the human body to create these landscapes; I'm trying to harness that sexual energy in the resultant abstract landscapes. Through their abstraction, I hope that the viewer of these underworld landscapes of shamanic reality may then look at more "ordinary" reality landscapes with fresh eyes.
I work in Photoshop distorting the original photographs, manipulating the variables in the program's algorithms, applying filters, and using various drawing and painting tools in the program. It is a very time intensive and layered process and it is all done digitally.
The seed idea for this work was born from a trip to Khajuraho India during my first semester of graduate school at Goddard in 2004. I was stunned by the friezes and statuary decorating the facades of towering 10th century C.E. temples (some of which are still active today). The artists depicted all aspects of their daily lives, culture, mythology and history, including a very complete kama sutra suite.
I was agape and transformed by the experience. I was fascinated by the idea of the sanctum sanctorum being surrounded by the totality of life, like the soul itself at the center of the human experience. I wondered about how different Western culture would have become had we embraced and celebrated sexuality and sexual activity instead of demonizing it.
This current work was also inspired by the drawings and printmaking of artists who accompanied explorers prior to the invention of photography. The Shadowlands portfolio is meant to document the places I travelled to during my vision quest preparation last year; attempting to re-incorporate, to embrace the shadow aspects (in the Jungian sense) of myself and to retrieve parts of my soul that were torn from me during traumatic experiences, or willingly left behind at various points in my life.
I consider the work to be spiritual mapping; I hope that I am creating liminal space that the viewer may find to be a meditative portal for their own journeys.
The Shadowlands portfolio is a continuation of a digital project that I have been working on for the past five years, some of which I have posted access to here in the Shamans Journey Digital Portfolio (see for example: Memo of Understanding: Maps of the Underworld, and Beneath the Permafrost. as well as others).
This work is an attempt to visualize the territory I traverse during my shamanic journeys; it is created largely in a meditative state, induced by the work itself. It is part of my larger overall project to represent my understanding of the holiness of all landscapes.
It's the continuation of my project to attempt to create something sacred out of something profane. I am, if you will, quite literally, but metaphorically as well, "queering" the landscape, as these works are sourced from publicly available gay "erotica", and as a 21st century white gay male offering a shamanic perspective of the underworld.