Monday, June 30, 2008

Cary Brown

After a life-threatening experience in 2005 involving cancer of the appendix, I moved inward. I felt a need to take a closer look -- a need to really feel and see life and death. Instead of painting vast landscapes, I pushed into it. I began to read a lot of poetry. My appetite grew for that big question: What is this all about? What is reality all about? What's going on above us, below us, on the surface of an orchid, in the heart of a woodpile, in the mind of a bird? So began my journey with this new work. Having studied photography at U.Va, I was drawn to the medium again when contemplating reality. The Polaroid emulsion process was a perfect match: it enhanced the ephemeral qualities, the elements of surprise and humor in nature. It allowed me to create wind and to be able to bend wallpaper, which seemed then to take on layers of reality infused with the strangeness of poetry that help things meet in that middle area of chaos and order, where truth -- perhaps -- hovers. I yearned to freeze all of that so I could study it. Of course, gradually the work began to take on a life of its own. Through the process I began to consider the spirit in these objects -- the light, the love, the energy, the beauty, the magic-- in essence, the truth. A story evolved: I would see it, hear it, and then go in with color, form, and sometimes words and bring the piece alive. After this I began to comprehend Emerson, Eiseley, and Dillard, all authors whose words were meaningful to me. I followed their assertion to really, really look and be a conscious witness. In this way so much more will be given to you. I kept exploring and came to the woodpile of an old ash tree we had to cut down on our farm. Here I mourn her in two pieces. In the last image, The Moo Piece, I saw through a child's eyes, where the innocence is, real intuition. I began to think of dreams, time travel, and the cosmos, then returned to my pot of boiling elements: wind and clouds bubbling in water, along with wood piles, donkeys, cows, flowers, birds, land, dust, and the laws of nature. I began to laugh, and it was then I knew I had been restored -- my soul had been fed and magically returned to its great capacity for joy.