Shelter in Place

2020

20″ W x 24″ H

Acrylic on canvas

This painting was created in response to the pandemic during official shelter in place orders. The inspiration draws on how one would build a shelter in the forest, a structure constructed in preparation for living exposed to natural elements – an absolute must for the chance of survival in harsher environments.

Instead of gathered sticks and forest debris, the construction is oddly made from neural connections, because as important as our physical surroundings are to our state of living, our thought life holds the key to thriving within whatever the circumstances may be. The reality is each of us is crafting a space in which to live and the quality of that structure is revealed when the storms come. Our thoughts can either build a solid shelter for protecting us well or a haphazard frame destined to come crashing down, leaving us trapped and even more vulnerable.

This lean-to, neural structure symbolizes the importance of controlling our thoughts while forced to hunker down in the wilderness of the pandemic. By examining the notions which have taken up residence – the fear, anxiety and grief – we can tend to the places in need of renovation and repair, nurturing deeper personal growth and establishing a healthier place to dwell.

“Editor’s Pick” Award, 2020, Scientific American MIND online publication

About the Neuron Series

Whenever finding myself in foreign surroundings, I am provoked to create. This doesn’t only have to do with geographical location but also life situations.  This series of paintings has been inspired by the journey my family has walked alongside our daughter who has special needs. In coming to better understand and embrace this reality, I never expected to become so intrigued by the complexity and beauty of the human mind.

I have been amazed to learn that everything we think and feel and do is nearly impossible without the work of neurons and their communication with each other. These neural connections are what make each of us unique. There is an unfathomable complexity in the human mind down to the detail of one miniscule neuron; this I find so very ironic with the reality that we as humans are also only dust.

Further study into the life and death of neurons and the concept of neuro-genesis leaves me amazed and hopeful with the mind’s ability to re-circuit itself in order to overcome inflicted damage.  It has been discovered that even songbirds have the unique ability to lay down neuron pathways in their brains when learning new songs. By changing these songs seasonally, the regeneration of neurons is encouraged.

Through creating this series, I have been reminded that we all have parts of our minds that are untapped and/or in desperate need of healing and redemption. These areas of dysfunction, some more visible than others, require deep restoration. Part of the transformation process is the intentional learning of new ways of thinking and living. What began as a way to understand, cope and hope for the healing of my daughter’s mind, has  developed into a plea for the slumbering areas of my own mind to awake as well, imparting to both of us a new song.