Friday, June 21, 2013

Art as a Connector

When I took medical leave from Tufts University in 2010, I was grappling with large questions without the conventional vocabulary used to express them. Essentially, I questioned the reality that nutrition science and its contributing fields were collectively building. Given my experience and training concerning study design, choosing study endpoints, and statistical theory, it seemed that many studies' outcomes that were touted, condensed, and re-touted failed to communicate full truth to a study's readers, colleagues in the field, and the general public. Rather, it seemed to communicate a shadow of what exists. 

In that year and a half away from a traditional laboratory, I read from various fields, lines of thought, and traditions in order to find an understanding of truth. As part of my struggle to reconcile the seemingly contrary world views and the truths I found in each of them, I turned to art. Not having used acrylics on canvas much in the past, their current states show a lot of experimentation with techniques. 

These first two pieces I am posting are still in progress although I have not worked on either in two years. The first painting is entitled Heaven Meets Earth. I hope, even in its incompleteness, that it conveys depth and mystery. With Layers, the second picture, I attempted to bring together my understanding of the spirit world, its language and symbolism. The whole did not make sense to me, and I think perhaps that is what I was meant to find. "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7).

This third painting I post here I have entitled Reality. The only finished piece, I believe its message is that understanding symbolism will aid in the quest to know reality. May we all meet and collectively build a just reality.

To sum up my findings to date, and to further argue that art is a means to find and express understanding for oneself and a means to communicate understanding to others, I suggest you read a poem, a message from wisdom (Proverbs 3):

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.

Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.

Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.

Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.

Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.

For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.

The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

The wise inherit honor,
but fools get only shame.

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