My art is a metaphysical journey of self -discovery. Ever since childhood I have been
fascinated with the liminal ---- the neither here nor there, the betwixt or the in-between. I
found the in-between to be a realm of pure possibility.
During my eighteenth year, an event occurred that was paramount to my exploration.
I was visiting friends and family in Wisconsin, the place where I was born, and I was
involved in a serious car accident. I was knocked unconscious for around ten minutes.
During that period of time, I floated far above myself. I gazed down at the scene peacefully
and with curiosity. Through this passageway, I felt expansive. I instantly realized that I was
not really unconscious, but that my being was occupying another realm. I felt the space I
had entered was timeless and eternal. It was only when I witnessed two paramedics placing
a halo around my head that my essence quickly shot back into my body and I slowly
regained consciousness. Later, after speaking to my Mom, I realized that I had an out-ofbody
experience. In the emergency room, I found out that part of my skull had been cracked, but that I
would be ok. The doctors told me my life signs had begun to normalize. I eventually made a full recovery, but something inside me was awakened and my life would never be the
My experience transformed me by concretizing my belief that consciousness is not
limited to our physical being and that various liminal realities exist simultaneously in this
incredible universe. The Bushmen of Southern Africa call this transformation the “Great
Hunger.” This is not physical hunger, but a haunting hunger for meaning in one’s life. I
soon developed a craving for mystical experiences within my own inner reality.
My art transformed from being a mode of expressing my inner demons to an avenue
of transformation, transcendence, and healing. I became deeply interested in the subjective
and transformative powers I felt in the “in between” or altered states of consciousness. I
discovered that my art and dreams were portals into my own self-exploration of the
unknown. My ancestors, the ancient Celts, called this state “Caol ‘ait” (thin places) where
the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds merge. Akin to the neo-shamanistic world
of creativity as ritual and transformation I found that through my creative process I could
pass through a type of threshold that allowed me to enter into a state of consciousness,
where I could explore the interflow between time, space, and the eternal.
As I continued to mature as an artist and a seeker, I developed a deep desire to travel
to sacred sites and to study ancient cultures whose shamanistic worldviews encompassed a
belief in a magical “other world” or “in between.” I was amazed at the archeological record,
which showed that the ancients intuitively constructed places for ritual and worship that
amplified the Earth’s energy. These “thin places” were potent portals into other realms of
consciousness. In the book Overlay, art critic Lucy Lippard explores the relationship between
contemporary art and prehistoric art. She states, “the ancient sites and images are talismans, aids to memory, outlets for the imagination, that cannot be owned--something seems to flow back to us
through these places. The symbols in these sites are a synthesis of changing
and multiple realities—both vehicles of several levels of reality and of several
levels of communal need. The towering standing stone in the landscape seems
not to dominate its surroundings but to coexist sensuously with them. It
confirms the human need to touch, to hold, to make, in relationship to natural
forces and phenomena.” (Lippard, 1983, pg 8.)
Having visited many sacred sites around the globe, from Stonehenge to Machu
Pucchi to Katmandu, it became very obvious to me that these sites are powerful
manifestations of the symbiotic connection between nature and the inner realms of the
ancients. As I gained more direct experience with these power spots around the Earth I
became driven to use art to foster my own personal relationship to nature and the mysteries
that reside within.
Characteristics of My Work
My art and process are inseparable from life. I began drawing at a very early age. I
instantly become immersed in the fantastic worlds I could create and the feelings I could
express through my art. I intuitively took up automatic drawing and was intrigued when my
hand would seem to move by itself. Later, I began to draw my dreams and I was amazed by
what the drawings revealed. My work continued to develop with my travels and studies. I
became very comfortable just being a conduit and having creativity flow through me. I have
come to believe that I am merely a channel for something greater than me that manifests
through my art. As Paul Klee wrote, “the artist does nothing other than gather and pass on
what comes to him from the depths. He neither serves nor rules ---- He transmits…. he is
merely a channel.”
Evocative, and elemental in force, my portals or my visionary abstract paintings
evoke notions of the Earth, blood, fire, and the Void (the Buddhist term Sunyata, meaning
the emptiness of creation where all form ar ises). My work offers a glimpse into the slippery
windowsill between stages of becoming and dissolving. It speaks of the sensual as well as the
luminous darkness that is revealed in immutable mysteries. Through my art and its process I
find myself in a continuous journey of discovery into both the sacred and shadowy realms of
existence. When I paint, I feel like I am invoking the ancients who painted in caves and ritual
I begin each painting with an intention. I embed an archetypal symbol such as a Nordic Cross or
Hindi Deity into my work. I do this either through drawing the symbol or focusing on a photo of the archetype. Sometimes I begin my paintings with some of the students I teach. My intention for them is healing. I let several students create the foundation of the painting with a color field. At times, I create to
the rhythm of nature’s cycles, or to the full moon or lunar eclipses. Music is imperative and
intrinsic to my creative process. I often engage my sense of scent through incense and I create ambient light through candles.
I create a visual language using acrylics and mixed media. I build up layers of
transparency through color and gel mediums. I usually start with a color field. Then I use the
chance element of water to create flowing and dripping paint, so that patterns emerge
organically from the interplay of mediums. At times, I may add materials from nature. I also
integrate var ious primordial marks and layers of symbols. Mark-making comes from my
spontaneous and intuitive impulses, which take on many forms. It is akin to the art form of
Sumi or Chinese ink brush, where the paint that flows from the brush becomes an extension
of my chi or energy. Like Jackson Pollock, who flung large f ields of drips and swirling
paint, I have the intention of making energy visible, thus demonstrating the infinite patterns
of connectedness. Mark-making is also like a form of archaeology, where I scratch away the
surface excavating back through all that I have built, seeing what lies beneath. This desire to
know what has been forgotten reveals itself through the portal of the mark. “ The ultimate
unity which the ancients achieved has been lost. The ancients had combined within their
plastic world the three all-important elements of human experience with in a single symbol.
These three are sensualism, sensation, and objectivity.” (Rothko, 2004, pg92.) Through my
creation of art, I seek to remember the wisdom of the ancients and what we have forgotten.
At some point in the creative process I incorporate Sacred Geometry. “Sacred
Geometry is a philosophy and practice existing in ancient Egypt and Greece. Its implicit goal
was to enable the mind to become a channel through which the earth; (the level of manifest
form) could receive abstract cosmic life from heavens.” (Lawler, pg6.) I consciously separate
the plane of the canvas by masking an area with a linear line or by creating a rectangle or
square. To me, this symbolizes the in-between, as well as the relationships between space
and time, chaos and order. It creates an edge or entry point for the viewer to explore deeper
into the surface of the painting.
The work below is called Chaos and Order. To me, it resembles the birth of a star or
galaxy. It is the animate nature of the formless coming into form. The black lightning- like patterns emerge. The solid line symbolizes the spatial order or the relationship of form to
abstraction. Chaos and Order was inspired by two journeys to South America. The golden color
is a reference to the luminosity and divinity of the worldviews of Mesoamerican ancient
cultures. The first journey involved two trips to Peru; the realm of the children of the sun.
There, I met a shaman who performed a ritual and led us through the Inca experience. He
guided us into the ancient ruins and we directly experienced the transcendent power of that
place. In Peru I felt like I had visited the womb of creation. The second journey involved a
visit to Iguaçu Falls, one of the seven wonders of the natural world. The panorama of the
falls filled me with fascination and a respect for the power and perfection of nature. I had a
spiritual experience gazing down into “the devils throat.” I was also intrigued by the strange
patterns that occurred in nature, like lichen growing on the boulders below the falls. I felt an
affinity with the place because in many of my automatic paintings similar patterns often
My latest canvases are a series of mysterious and explosive triptychs
that ascend dynamically into space. These works are the intersection of
my studies with my interest in Shamanism. In this work there is a quality of the “event” and a sense of both my immersion and retreat from this state of being. This work was inspired by my travels to the petroglyphs
of Pu’uloa, Hawaii and the sacred sites of Knowth, NewGrange, the Hill of Tara and the
Giants Causeway in my ancestral land of Ireland.
I work on all three canvases simultaneously on the floor. My intention is to break
through and connect physically and metaphysically to all three worlds of my consciousness --
-- the lower, middle, and upper worlds (the subconscious, conscious, and super
consciousness). Through my process, I feel a sense of immersion into and through these
states of being, as the work occupies the darkness of the optical world and the lightness of the
inner world. While creating I unify each canvas to the others through mono printing and/or
an intuitive and automatic calligraphy. When the work is complete it is transferred from the
Earth into the sky as it is hung vertically on a wall.
The totems become the tentacles of a sacred site. The work symbolizes the Axis
Mundi, which is an ancient archetype in religion and mythology. A representation of the Axis
Mundi is the world tree. The tree is considered to be the connection between heaven and
Earth. The anthropologist Mircea Eliade describes the Axis Mundi as “the absolute reality;
the center on which the world is founded.” (Citation?) I seek for my totems to help us
remember what we have forgotten in this world and to become an outlet for the imagination.
Site Specific works
the Bay Area that emanate power or have an absence of it. It began as a practice to rekindle my ancient relationship with trees. Evidence of human kind’s interconnection with trees traces back well over 6,ooo
years. Humanity once had a deep spiritual relationship with trees. Indeed, the precursor to our dominant patriarchal religions was the tree. My work is a cross culture phenomenon inspired by the Kalaptura tree (wishing tree) of India and by various ancient and indigenous cultures around the globe that worshipped
trees. While creating these works metaphysically, I activate my belief in animism ---- the
shamanistic worldview that bodies in nature have souls and consciousness.
Thus far I have created eleven earthworks, five being solar and six being lunar. The
solar or circle shrines symbolize the archetype of the masculine. The crescent or lunar
shrines symbolize the archetype of the feminine and must be created near a water source. I
employ these two energies through the intuitive action of creating concentric circles around
the trunk of a tree with pigments, spices, and food from Asia, India, and South America. The
inner rings of the shrine seem to exteriorize and vibrate with energy through the vibrant and
contrasting colors of the pigments. After each work is complete I meditate with the tree and
document my experience.
An important aspect of this project is the witnessing and of the interaction of the work
by another to activate its potential for the witness to remember
something they have forgotten. My intention is for my shrines to evoke
introspection and a sense of the sacred for those who stumble upon
them in a forest or in a city.
One of my latest tree shrines was a solar shrine created at
Lincoln Child Center, a mental health agency for abused children
where I teach transformative art. It was a collaborative project with my students. The tree we
chose was a neglected olive tree located on a small island of dirt surrounded by cement. We
poured the pigments and contrasting hues to activate the solar energy in the concentric
circles. Then we tore Sari cloth and ribbons and asked all the children to make wishes as they
tied the ribbons to the tree. The children intuitively asked permission from the tree. One
child wished for world peace. Another wished to go home. A third wished he would not be
restrained anymore. The wind blew through the tree with the simplicity and majesty of
Tibetan prayer flags, carrying my students’ wishes away.
My earthworks are expanding internationally. I have decided to create shrines around
the globe. In March of 2008, I went to Copper Canyon in Mexico and I created a shrine in
around a tree located in a place called “the valley of frogs.” From afar, I noticed several
people looking at the shrine with curiosity. I hope my shrines will help build awareness of
our spiritual connection with the environment, and that they will help foster reverence for all
My photography is a form of seeing as well a process of me becoming a witness ---- a
capturer of my own personal transcendent moments in time. With
photography I harness moments in the sacred sites I have traveled to
around the globe. In ordinary reality I photograph moments of light
that exemplify the sublime, the beauty, and the magic of my
perceived space in that time. My paintings, upon which I reflect on
for hours on end, often become my subject matter as they transform
and glow in the sunlight. Like my tree shrine photos, this process of documentary usually
reveals something that was hidden or unknown to me.
The Hands of Creation series manifested from my teaching transformative art to
vulnerable and emotionally troubled children at a mental health agency in the Bay Area. I
was looking for a way to honor the creative powers of my amazing students. Because of
privacy issues I was not allowed to photograph their
faces. So I decided to take pictures of their creative
tools ---- their hands. Through the Hands of Creation
project, I seek to honor that state of the soul where the
artist/child experiences the ultimate liberation, which is the act of creation itself. It is my way of honoring the children’s essence and creativity, and
counteracting apathy. My portraits are the revelation of the “other” to many viewers who
know little about the struggles these children face. They bring to light the horrific plague of
abuse that exists in our society. Through my practice and my teaching, I attempt to heal the
wounded soul and to empower these magnificent and marginalized children.
visionary artist who was following my dreams and realizing my greatest potential; the other
being my shadow. Previously, I had been doing f ine art sales in the gallery world and trying
to find some redemption about being in the arena. I call it my six-year research project to see
what the art world was all about and how I could infiltrate it. I became sickened by the
ugliness of greed and the perverse paradox that we were selling “beauty.” Visionary and
spiritual aspects of the artist were never mentioned and were denied for the sake of money.
Artists become brand names and lingered in “rock star” status. We were not selling art, but
image and status. I was heartbroken. Where had the essence of art gone? This worldview of
art also resonated with my education. Having taken many art history courses, I noticed that
the word, “spirituality,” was always left out. The “S word” was not accepted in the
mainstream art world.
My personal quest is to reunite art and the spirit. Akin to the alchemist’s work, which
is the transformation of gross material into spiritual substance, I see my art as artifacts of my
ever-transforming consciousness. My art and its process represent a humble quest to resurrect
divination in my personal journey and into the community at large. As an artist my work
gives the viewer a personal glimpse of my internal revelations. While creating I become a
shamanic cave painter, an archeologist, an alchemist, and sorceress.
I speak of divination in its broadest sense, meaning that through my art and process I
find myself in a continuum of discovering the unknown within myself and in the world that I
live in. The motives and impulses behind my creative process are my shamanistic belief that
through the process of creation, I align with dynamism and the divinity that is animated in all
of life. Like Tibetan art, which symbolically describes levels of awareness, I intuitively
explore the three levels of sacred art in my work: the outer, the inner, and the secret----The
outer being the physical object; the inner being the ritual that occurs during my art making;
and the secret, where through the process of my creation and through my reflection on the
finished work, the unknown becomes known.
Art is my personal ritual and teacher. My allure with “thin places” has also led me to
explore transpersonal psychology and my own personal shadow through dream work and
Jungian analysis. My art is a record of my deep interest in mysticism and the natural world,
as well as a passageway into my own mythical inversion of reality. It is my deep exploration
into non-ordinary reality and the mysteries of the unknown. While creating I employ my two
mental allies, instinct and intuition, to create a composition of chaos and order.
My philosophy and worldview exist on the margins of our society. The mainstream
philosophy is still part of the old paradigm. The Western World’s dominant philosophy
consists of dogmatic materialism and acquisition. Spirituality is separate from the material.
The dominant theologies in the world are patriarchal and oppress nature and the sacred
Feminine. Countless lives are taken every day in the name of their god. Underlining
patriarchal philosophy is the notion that there is only one truth.
Even in the art world, spirituality has been suppressed. The pioneers of abstraction,
like Kandinsky and his belief that art was a spiritual revolution, have been hidden in
institutional closets. The dominant philosophy is that the universe is not animistic. The Earth
and its animals are for man to own, rape, and pillage. Animals are treated as objects that feel
no pain and are tortured in horrific and unbelievable ways via factory farming and in the
name of scientific research. The dominant philosophies are so unjust and overwhelming, that
one could easily develop a fatalistic vision of the world.
There is hope though, as a new paradigm is emerging. Just like the life that bursts
through the cracks in pavement, there are like-minded souls, who quest to revere life in itself.
There are many teachers such as Krishnmurti, Jung, and Wilber who have challenged the
materialistic culture. I can look to a somewhat hidden legacy of the great artists throughout
history that have explored the transcendent through their art. The Spiritual in Abstract
Painting from 1890-1985 offers a series of exposés illuminating the explorations by artists
such as William Blake, Malchevich, and Mark Rothko into the mysterious realms of
metaphysics and beyond. They all illuminate the potential of the universe and its symbiotic
relationship with human nature. The new sciences are also revealing the mysteries of what
the ancients knew through holistic systems and Quantum theory.
Jung offers springs of hope to my ideal of being a visionary artist. “We see that [the
visionary artist] has drawn upon the healing and redeeming forces of the collective psyche
that underlies consciousness with its isolation and its painful errors: that she/he penetrated to
that matrix of life in which all men/women are embedded, which imparts a common rhythm
of human existence, and allows the individual to communicate his feeling and his striving to
mankind as whole.” (Jung)
works, and my teaching is abuse, which plagues society and the planet Earth. My approach to this work is not criticism, but a gentle revelation of what was and what can be. In all my work I explore and reveal the shadow of humanity by facing it, bringing it to surface, and on a personal level, finding a way to transform it. In my work I foster the reverence of all life, the importance of one’s inner journey, the power of creativity and its intrinsic healing nature within all humans, my work rekindles our intrinsic and essential relationship with nature.
The Art of Transformation
As an art educator and healer I am drawn to the populations that are marginalized,
like at risk-youth and emotionally disturbed children. Prior to graduate school I implemented
a transformative art program for at-risk teens in Arkansas called “Teen Art Explosion.” The
last project we completed was a dream art project. This work was a treasure. My work and
the teens’ artwork became published in an international dream magazine. In 2006 I quested
to teach again and I blindly took an art teaching job at a non-profit mental agency for
traumatized and abused children. I was shocked by two things, the first being the absence of
art for these children in their daily lives and the other being the rigid behavior ist model that
the system had adopted for these traumatized children.
Maybe I was lucky that there was no art program because the vacuum enabled me to
pioneer my own transformative art program at the center. One inspiration and model for my
program came from the film Born into Brothels, which documented disadvantaged children
in India who were given the opportunity to express themselves through art. One of the most
powerful aspects of this film was that the children’s art was received in the public through
Using my background in art sales, I set up exhibitions for my students to show their
work. My vision was to awaken the public to the plight of these marginalized youth, to see
the beauty within them, and to build bridges between communities. Such initiatives, to my
knowledge, are quite rare in the mental health community. During my two years at the center,
I have developed ongoing public exhibitions for the children’s work. The most successful
project is called “The Art of Transformation,” which is a gallery event showcasing the work
of children from five mental health agencies. These exhibitions have fostered transformation
within my students and the communities they have shown in. The people who buy my
students’ work are moved to their core. The art has awakened them to the beauty and the
imagination of the perceived “other.”
I mentor children to find their creative power and give voice to their fragmented
beings. Bryanna, one of my beautiful students, has dubbed my art room “the calm room”.
Everyday that I work with these amazing and resilient children my belief that art is a healing
force is affirmed.
Within my work in society I attempt to expose abuse in the world. My art looks at it
straight in its face and attempts to begin the process of healing through the art process and its
reception. My work responds to social issues as it aspires to renew and resurrect the spirit in
art. The spirit is not a dogmatic truth, but a universal truth.
The found peace
Earlier this year, I attended The Missing Peace, an exhibition by curator Randy
Rosenberg at the Yerba Buena Center for Art in San Francisco. The exhibition was about the
Dali Lama and his archetype. It represented the greater ideals he stands for such as tolerance,
unity, connection, and healing. It was inspiring to see that there were contemporary artists
like myself who were also interested in similar issues and journeying into the inner realms.
Rosenburg states, “One of the central roles of art and the artist is to encourage us to think
about the forces that shape our lives. The transformative power of art invites us to reflect on
our beliefs about those forces, and to make the shifts in our perception necessary to expand
them (The Missing Peace, pg 8). Like The Missing Peace, my art also seeks to educate,
inspire, transform, and engage, and heal.
This is the New Movement is a project challenging the old paradigm of art as an
institution, unreachable by the masses. I, along with two other local artists, attend museums
once a month and encourage audiences to express what they felt about the art they saw. We
hope to instigate a dialogue. We leave our flyers with our website for people to find so they
can log on and express their views online. We also create videos of each visit and post them
on YouTube. Our movement integrates technology and new paradigm views to challenge the
status quo of the art world and to entice the masses to engage in art in a visceral and
I am also collaborating with artist and activist Janice Brewster to honor victims of
abuse. We will be creating an installation this spring in companion with my student’s artwork
Janice has collected thousands of hand tracings from around the world to break the silence
that pervades this plague in all our societies. Next year we hope to organize a trip to Africa
to collaborate with the Zulu tribe in breaking the silence of abuse and resurrecting the healing
power of art.
As I conclude my studies at JFK I continue to be a prolific painter and I continue to
be overwhelmed and amazed by my audience’s receptivity and understanding of my work.
My coursework at JFK has been fruitful and has expanded my vision. I found that the sacred
is a realm of the larger truths surrounding and conditioning our lives and dwelling within or
in between: it is the realm of the hidden, and therefore, revelation. Art and teaching is my