VANITAS was shown in Spokane at the Kolva Sullivan gallery displaying work produced over the course of 2021 and 2022 along with 4 poems written in 2020.
Vanitas (Latin for Vanity) is a genre of art originating from the 16th and 17th century among Dutch painters. Where the opulence of the church and noble patrons begat the opulence of the renaissance and the baroque through historical and religious painting, the burgeoning Dutch merchant class bought paintings for their homes and personal enjoyment.
The sumptuous still lifes reflected the wealth and luxury of the population. Within these demonstrations of material prosperity one would often find hints of decomposition.
Spots of blight on leaves. A bit of rot on overripe fruit. Bones, skulls and broken machinery. Dutch painters embedded these "Memento Mori" ("remember that you will die") among the comforts their patrons enjoyed.
The Vanitas is not only a cue to recall that the comforts of life are fleeting. It is also a reminder of a wholistic affirmation of life itself. Life inherits death. Beauty dances with decay. Rapture and pain. These pairs of opposites repelling each other on the surface yet united in and by creation itself.
"This makes me think of the gnostic aphorism in the Gospel according to Thomas in which Christ is asked when the Kingdom will come. And Christ says, "It will not come by expectation. It is here now. The kingdom of the Father is spread over the earth and men do not see it" ... In the Oriental tradition of Buddhism, it is the Buddha who releases you from the enchantment of maya...If you could break away from your ego limitations, you would behold the world of paradise right here and now. There is a Buddhist saying: "This world with all its ills, with all its horrors, with all its stupidities, with all its darkness, is the golden lotus world." This is the golden lotus world, right now as it is. And if you cannot see it as such, it is not the world's fault. What must be corrected is not the world but your own perspective. And so we find in the Grail legend that everything needed is all there, only it is not being seen. And what the hero is to do is to clarify the situation."
Joseph Campbell, "Romance of the Grail - The Magic and Mystery of the Arthurian Myth"
"The fundamental human experience is that of compassion. All life stinks and you must embrace that with compassion. The purpose of the journey is compassion. When you have come past the pairs of opposites, you have reached compassion."
"The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. "Live," Nietzsche says, "as though the day were here." It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal -carries the cross of the redeemer- not in the bright moments of his tribe's great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair."
Joseph Campbell - Hero with a Thousand Faces