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

This body of work began as visual prayers for our daughter with a rare genetic disorder. In my seeking to understand her physical condition and come to terms with the reality presented, I was drawn into the study of neurons and neuro-genesis. I grew intrigued by the beautiful complexity of the human mind and its ability to re-circuit itself around inflicted damage by creating new pathways. So much potential, transformative power and hope resides in these miniscule neurons working in the deepest recesses of our being.

Through creating on my daughter’s behalf, I came to realize that not only I, but all of us, have parts of our minds untapped and/or in desperate need of restoration. Vital to the transformation process is adopting new ways of thinking and living, much like a songbird which has been proven to possess the unique ability of regenerating neural pathways when learning new seasonal songs.

Renewing our minds can begin by heeding the encouragement to take every thought captive. We have the power to reclaim our thought life by practicing the simple, yet profound, discipline of being aware of even the smallest of notions and its influence to either lead us down a pathway of chaos and despair or life-giving peace and hope.

Interested in hearing more about my journey with the neuron series? Then check out this written interview featured in the online magazine, Voyage ATL.