Statement: Turning, Tuning

As a painter I act as a witness, actively encountering the world and gathering “what the senses see, what the heart feels, and the world suffers.” *

I carry these encounters, visions and feelings with me into the solitude of the studio, where they provide fuel and a ground for discovery, yet are subsumed in a meditative practice – a practice of intercession, healing and beauty.

I often begin with a healing mantra. As I listen, sing, and breathe, I address the canvas directly, inscribing the syllables in large calligraphic strokes of dripping indigo paint (often across multiple canvases at once). The repetitive rhythmic motion and sound, activates my body and quiets my mind as I turn inward and tune in to the vibrations and rhythms within and beyond myself. Then, I might quickly create all-over rows of circular shapes, inspired by the sea of bodhisattvas at Sanjusangendo in Kyoto (the 1001 radiant golden statues of compassionate beings).

Next, I respond to the energy and structure before me.  My recent experience as a Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome gave me the opportunity to be more trusting of chance, risk-taking, and non-judgmental mark making.  So I spontaneously add more color, scribbles, drips, squiggles and blocks.

As my intuitive conversation with the work continues, I attend to what captures me, noticing what wants to emerge or recede. Some areas are emphasized by scribbled outlines of graphite; others are obscured by drips or blocks of color. With palette knives, my fingers, oil sticks, graphite —and, occasionally brushes – I alternate between building and excavating, quieting and activating, until the surface is rich with layers of process and has acquired a patina of time, depth, and presence.

In attending to particulars and connecting to the universal through the matter and gesture of paint, I seek to express the spirit and energy in my subject, the world and myself. 


*James Hillman, “Practicing Beauty” in Uncontrollable Beauty, p.266

   © 2015 mary souza