Glory! Glory! Praise Be!
Birdsong wakes us up. Birdsong enthralls us. The poignancy and exigency of birdsong stop us mid-stride on our way somewhere. Interrupt us, mid-sentence. The wake-up call. We tilt our heads and lift our pointer fingers. We wait for a repetition of the urgent melodic phrase from over there, the abrupt twinkling spiral from up above.
We know that bird songs carry messages and meaningful phrases – bird words. Bird language. As natural scientists we like to identify and categorize the various emphatic and often astonishing utterances made to alert fellows of the discovery of a blessed food source, to warn of the detection of a predator swooping down from above or climbing up from below, or simply to exult in sheer joyous flight. Stay away! Watch out! This is my territory! She is mine! Or, Come and feast! Here I come! Woo-hoo!
Yet, our deepest inner selves respond to the song itself, deeper than the messages relayed. Birdsong transports us. We irresistibly resonate with the shining spirit contained in the artistry, in the melody, in the movement. Pure beauty, pure love, pure joy, pure spirit. Birdsong reminds us intuitively, on a deep spiritual/biological level, why we’re here at all: to praise. To praise being here at all. The whole magnificent mess of being alive. Glory! I’m alive!! Thank you!
Viewing nature as a gate to the spiritual realm is a thesis running through my work. My Nature Icons are about the natural world and the sacred therein. A bird or butterfly is painted in detail in gouache on paper and then set into the traditional religious template of the icon, intending to express the non-sectarian and pantheistic nature of spirit. And spirit of nature. The spiritual energy of birds and other buzzing, tweeting, singing, ringing creatures is naturally distilled from that of the angels, saints, and deities traditionally depicted in religious icons. Once adhered to a birch plywood panel, the bird painting becomes integrated into a mixed media acrylic painting, incorporating the collage of natural objects (leaves, seeds, flowers), found imagery, and original photographs. In some older pieces there is text: a thought might float along in the ceaseless flow of ideas, memories, song snippets, beginnings and ends, pain and joy - of the realm of spirit.
Icons are visual representations that awakens within us a primal truth. Painted on wooden panels, icons are sacred objects in themselves, not intended as idols or graven images, not containing power but reflecting it, manifestations of the radiance and oneness of Nature.