Both the shaman and the artist willingly venture where others would not travel. A shaman was an inspired fool who’s job was to cure the sick and communicate with the Spirit. The job of an artist today is very similar in that he points out the ignored and the obvious, and paints the unseen—and in the process, renders the human soul. Both shamans and artists connect ideas with people, emotions with souls, and open windows into new or ancient realities.
“…But now we have a tradition that doesn’t respond to the environment—it comes from somewhere else, from the first millennium B.C. It has not assimilated the qualities of our modern culture and the new things that are possible and the new vision of the universe. Myth must be kept alive. The people who can keep it alive are artists of one kind or another. The function of the artist is the mythologization of the environment and the world.”
— Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
As an artist I make nonsense out of meaning, or meaning out of nonsense; I deliberately misinterpret cultural signs, jumble known facts, misuse common tools, and recycle cultural artifacts. The act of painting for me is both a synthesis of a connection to the collective psyche and a reflection of my personal experience. I cannot always say where an image is coming from or where it is going. Jungian archetypes can only explain a portion of what is invoked during the process of painting. I have often thought that I am not solely the author of the work that I produce; and that the best art involves images that defy explanation; things that cannot be traced back to any definite origin.
Writers sometimes speak of characters that spontaneously emerge in a novel, coming “alive” and even directing the author’s work. For me, a good painting also has a life and a direction of its own. Unpredictable and capricious, it can break free of my conscious control, and take a new course. I actually endeavor to set up the circumstances and environment where this kind of break can happen naturally. I look for the “happy accident” that allows me to glimpse something from the other mind, from my soul’s intent — a chance to make the unseen seen.
If you feel an epiphany that goes beyond words, then you have connected with the essence of something through art or nature. As Joseph Campbell points out, an epiphany does not have to be aesthetic in nature — rather it involves a “gut” feeling of truth, something that goes beyond mere words and logic. Reaching that part of us is the holy grail in art.. That is the magic, the alchemical effect, the connection that we all long for, the distance abridged—the “Aha”. We cannot get there through daily life or a life lived ordinarily. Art is my bridge to the inner self, a window into the human soul.
— Aliyah Marr