RG: Art and wellness are definitely part of my language. I find art particularly therapeutic right now. It feels generative and positive, a direct outlet to translate our experiences. I am also a long-time meditator and reiki practitioner, and I have been invested in various other practices like Qigong, tai chi, and yoga over the years, all of which have informed my art and life directly or indirectly. Since the pandemic, Vipassana meditation and Qigong have been part of my life at home.
I have been practicing Vipassana since 2013. Vipassana is a Buddhist term that means insight or the ability to see things as they really are. The objective of this form of meditation is to gain insight through breath and from focusing on sensations in your body—feeling them, becoming equanimous to them, and allowing them to pass. The realization within this practice is of acceptance and of presence, knowing that feelings or energy that is experienced in one's body is due to karma/previous actions and cellular memory. The idea is to allow things to flow through you without reacting to them. The energy transforms. My painting process took on a new understanding or meaning after I began to practice Vipassana. When one begins to sit and focus on sensations on/in the body, it is possible to feel the relationships between memory and those feelings.
I like to “excavate color” or remove the top layers of paint/color to get to the buried layers. I do this by sanding and scraping paint off of the surface. The painting’s history is present on its surface, but it is also embedded. I think the way one stores and transforms memory in the body is similar, recognizing sensations and allowing them to transform. My process is much like this. I build up the surface slowly with thin layers, and the process of removal allows me to expose previous moments, responding to them and ultimately transforming them. I think my interest in memory is really about this potential to travel through time and to transform. The building up of the surface and the subtle removal of the surface is reminiscent of this.