Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Gift of Being Seen

John O'Donohue the Irish poet and philosopher, once wrote, “One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen.”     

It is truly a gift.  Last Sunday, Gallery Stratford curator Aidan Ware, introduced my exhibition, Gathering Light with these words:  "The work is not only beautiful aesthetically, it expresses a longing we all feel-perhaps particularly at this time of year-as we search for light and meaning and hope.  Mark Rothko once said, 'A painting is not about an experience. It is an experience.' And I cannot think of a better statement to describe Janice's work. You have to experience it. Meditate with it. Be quiet with it. Let it transcend its form and become a spiritual experience. I believe that art can act as a kind of spiritual salve. It can heal as much as it can provoke us towards and past boundaries. It can offer us space for contemplation, elevation, communion. For gathering light."

My exhibition, Gathering Light continues at Gallery Stratford in Stratford, Ontario until April 5th.

Friday, January 9, 2015

As My Work Goes Into the World

The work at Gallery Stratford awaiting installation

I'm enjoying a small pause in my work cycle.  My studio is bare and quiet.

My solo exhibition called Gathering Light, will open at the beautiful and spacious Gallery Stratford in Stratford, Ontario  on January 25th.  It runs until April 7th.  Over the Christmas holidays I was busy with the details of preparing the work to be sent off: sanding edges, attaching hanging hooks, documenting, cataloguing and wrapping the work.  Twenty-seven paintings were sent off on Monday.

Gathering Light 25 (1455)  60x60"  Oil on Canvas ©2014 Janice Mason Steeves
I've worked for months on this exhibition, flowing on a stream of high energy that carried me along and at times exhausted me.  It's exciting this business of art.  We put ourselves in the path of the Gods so they will carry us along.  And if we do this consistently we find a deep inner meditative place. It involves trust and surrender and in the process, we learn more about ourselves. That's the goal of painting or any art form isn't it?  To learn more about ourselves and what we're here for.

Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing Down the Bones, talks about art as a spiritual practice:

"One of the main aims in writing practice is to learn to trust your own mind and body: to grow patient and nonaggressive.  Art lives in the Big World.  One poem or story doesn't matter one way or the other.  It's the process in writing and life that matters.  The process teaches about sanity. We are trying to become sane along with our poems and stories.  Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master said, 'We must continue to open in the face of tremendous opposition.  No one is encouraging us to open and still we must peel away the layers of the heart.'"

Gathering Light 14 (1444)  60x60"   Oil on Canvas  © 2014 Janice Mason Steeves

Soon this work will be launched into the world.  Like a living being, it will find its own way.  And I will let it go.  In time, I'll move on to new work, another cycle will begin and I'll explore new avenues.

But for another few weeks, I'm going to just enjoy the end of this cycle and seeing this new work off on it's journey.