40" x 60", Mixed media, sculptural watercolor paper, grommets, black coated wire, gray edges
ART INSPIRATION //
We all accumulate certain identifications as we grow. For example, I am a caucasian, a female, an American, an artist, a wife, a mother, a Democrat, an Austinite, a tennis player, a University of Delaware graduate, etc. We live by these labels and cling to them as our identity, but there are 2 things that happen as a result. First, these categories become barriers between ourselves and others - If we do not share the same identifications, we are perceived subconsciously as being on different "teams". When someone claims their own personal preference as "better" or "right", we can easily feel defensive which puts us more into a position of adversaries. This is racism. This is the current political division. The second thing that happens is that we set ourselves up for devastation should we be unwantingly stripped of any of these identifications. This is a sports fan who is crushed after their team loses. This is the person who doesn't know what to do with themselves after they retire. By consciously stripping ourselves of these ego-driven identities, we remove the obstacles between us, so that we can respect our differences without feeling threatened. We also give ourselves the gift of self awareness and stability that is independent of, and transcends above, outside factors.
Since working on myself in this area, I've had 3 random experiences that really illustrated this shift in perspective. The first was the thought of losing my husband and how I might function after his death. For context, we have been together 28 years, and I know my own identity was very much intertwined with his. The thought of living a life without him was scary, not just because I would miss him dearly, but because I wouldn't know who I was without him. Being able to separate my identity from my husband felt like an empowering gift on some level. For as much as I cherish him and our marriage and hope to not live a day without him, I felt like I could rely on myself and be able to stand alone should that time come. Another moment where I felt the dissolution of identifications was one day when I went to a restaurant. While the hostess was leading us to our booth, we passed table after table of different groupings of people - couples, coworkers, parents and kids, friends out to celebrate, young and old. I was overcome when out of nowhere, a warm feeling of unity washed over me and I radiated it to all of those I passed by. From my heart, I wished them happiness, health, love and compassion - without a single direct interaction, I felt connected to them fully. The sensation is hard to describe, but satisfying in an utter experience of oneness. Another observation I've made is that I am not as upset by things that would've previously irritated me. I have always been conflict-adverse, so when engaged in moments of disagreement, I used to feel my heart race, my face get hot and then I would end up ruminating about it afterwards. But the past few times I've encountered a conflict, I observed afterwards that I had approached the situation calmly, rather than reactionary or defensively - I had been less identified with the topic in question. These examples were powerful to me in themselves, but even more so as proof that there was a shift taking place inside myself and that rewiring our thought patterns and knee-jerk tendencies was possible.
Each remnant of curled paper represents an identification that has been accumulated over the years. Stripping them one by one reveals a clean, iridescent ego, unburdened by labels and free of attachments.
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES //
- Sadhguru video: "You're Super Identified with your Thought Process and Emotion"