Posted on November 24 2020
Featured image: Release of the Doves
I receive a lot of invitations to enter exhibitions. I received one recently that grabbed my attention. Not all of them do. This one was no different from the others that I have received with asking the question, “How has COVID effected or changed your art work?” I answer, "When the shut down began I was worried about where would I show my work and how would I get it out there in this big world if all the galleries and museums were shutting down."
My attitude – "don’t worry about it – go with the flow." And I started painting something I paint every now and then, flowers. I painted a lot of flowers, probably 20 of them, some big, some small. They made me happy. And that was good. But I also began to work on a series called my "Gears series." I have talked about this in other blogs so I won’t repeat myself here.
But this invitation talked about the isolation of COVID and asked how artists were affected by it. The invitation read:
“COVID 19. THE ART OF ISOLATION/SURVEY 3/Third Edition is a juried show that surveys artists' creations during the unceasing crisis of COVID 19. Our civilization has entered a new paradigm of isolation and distanced connections, and an uncertain future. Humans are faced with an ongoing set of life challenges connected to mortality, loss, death, and rebirth.”
My immediate thought was, "Why is isolation and distance a negative thing and not a positive thing?" At least that is how I read the invitation. As most of you know – nature and all things natural is my muse. So I asked my muse – and what happened? I began reading about how nature gives one a sense of belonging and returning to the beginning. The Bible talks about Adam and Eve in the garden. (I got side tracked here and began looking at gardens and how they effect us. That will be a different blog.) When Eve took a bite of the apple from the tree of knowledge, the overwhelming interpretation is that she released evil and sin into the world. They lost the trust of the Creator. This is just an interpretation. What if the bliss that Adam and Eve experienced of being one with all things – of being fluid with all things – what if that was broken when Eve took that bite. It had nothing to do with sin, but with the fact that that fluidity with all things natural, with all things simply disappeared. And choice entered the garden. Choice changed all things. It took human beings away from the blissful fluidity into a motley complexity that human beings frequently can’t find their way out of.
As human beings, there are many of us to explore ways to return to the natural – the blissful garden. It is very difficult. You have frequently heard me talk about it, I call it the "yes, yes, yes" state. To find that state, that very fluid state, very few of us can do it with others, we have to be alone to find it. Isolated. Some of us never find it because we don’t allow ourselves to find it. We would rather be in the motley social space of clutter and messy places that are always motley. Others reach out for that space often. It frequently will center us and make us feel whole. The COVID ISOLATION has a positive effect on a lot of us. It has brought us back to the center and allowed us to be ourselves. For me, I love my isolated times in nature. Paddling down a river, quietly, no voices, fishing in the early, quiet morning, sitting in the woods, hearing only the sounds of all things natural.
There are others like me.
How often do you see a man in a boat, tossing one cast after another with the sun setting? I talked about the swimmers high or the runners high in one of my blogs – again returning to the natural. Perhaps this time of COVID isolation is a time to return to the garden and experience bliss. That is where the muse takes me – and I am always, always refreshed from the experience – like Adam and Eve in the garden before Eve took the bite of the apple.
So how does one apply this to life? An easy example is the apple. Think about taking a bite of an apple yourself and savoring it. Chewing slowly, experiencing the different textures in your mouth of its skin and its center. Experience the different flavors in your mouth of different apples. For me the key is slowly, slowly experience the apple. Don’t just eat it randomly, not thinking about it. Eat it as if you have never experienced the taste of an apple– and allow the total experience to linger. Isolate yourself and the experience, the bliss of this exquisite fruit. Write down how you are experiencing it – not how someone else has. This is the bliss of isolation. This is the bliss of all things natural.
Three Green Apples by Christine Alfery
It is with all things natural that we can be ourselves. The story in the Bible about the garden – perhaps is about sin – but I like thinking of it as the amniotic fluid that surrounds a baby within the womb when the warmth of security are all things wonderful. The feeling of peace and harmony with nature is deeply satisfying. The experiences I have had in isolation are very deep and it has provided me a source of knowledge and experience that will never run out. And the isolation and nature give my spiritual soul and self a balance that I need when I walk into a motley space.