Saturday, August 24, 2013

Co Incidence

Co Incidence installation, view upon entry, with one of two portraits at Pablo's Coffee 1300 Pennsylvania St., Denver, CO

I'm talking about two things that happen at once, partners in incidence, existing and acting simultaneously whether in or out of balance.  In the case of this art installation, Co Incidence, that I did at Pablo's Coffee (Pennsylvania St. at 13th Ave., Denver, CO), I intended to highlight a nuance of understanding of this term as described by Carl Jung that particularly affected me as I work to increase my personal, mental stability.

Whew... stay with me.
Jung describes the coincidence of opposites as an achievable state of mind wherein opposing states such as chaos and peace of mind can be balanced by placing one's awareness directly between or in the middle of the two states.  This is an exercise in the mind usually applicable when experiencing overly negative or painful states of mind.  For example, I have a habit of critical self judgement that is usually productive, but, when extreme, can make me feel like a helpless failure.  When I'm feeling this way, I am aware of myself as self supporting and a person of intelligence but the extreme feeling of failure or helplessness keeps me distant from these more useful modes of being.  Jung says that if we can become aware of ourselves as a coincidence of these two opposites that even in these most off-balance experiences we can pull back into balance.  We can reengage with ourselves as whole beings.  It's hard work, but I've been able to do this a few times and when that point of awareness, balance and then compassion for myself arrives (at the co incidence), I am lighter, more peaceful, more clear-thinking, and able to forgive myself for the overly critical, self effacing judgement I've imposed.  At that point, I can even think more clearly about why that critical judge flew off the handle like that.

When I first realized this possibility,  I shared what I had read (in Healing into Life and Death, by Stephen Levine) with my therapist and was feeling particularly hopeful about my personal welfare as I drove home from our session.  In a most typical Colorado way, a storm was moving through and the sunshine burst through from behind me and a rainbow appeared ahead.  The rainbow - a representation of the coincidence of opposites: sunny-day, rainy day.

So I went to my studio and made a portrait of myself having skin with a rainbow gradient of color as my skin.
The rainbow that I made at Pablo's, perfectly level, at average eye-level, cutting through all of the spaces inhabited by cafe goers, represented to me a kind of settling awareness and a moment of looking around, seeing where you are.  The rainbow colors are uniquely uplifting in their color-grouping (different than any other group of colors).  The whole installation evolved out of intuition from the moment I saw the rainbow from the car that late afternoon.  For me, it's personal - a part of the journey of self healing and self balancing and self love that I've been on throughout adulthood and that has increased since the death of my Sister in Law, Whitney and her husband Dave.  For everyone else, it's a moment of present awareness and recognition for the feeling you get when a rainbow sets in.  The rainbow colors of my skin tone (there are two self portrait drawings directly across the room from each other) may imply different things to different people, but to me it was seeing the rainbow in myself.  It was seeing the coincidence of the opposites and placing myself there in order to be a more complete expression of myself.

Formal presentation of this work is viewable on my website, under "Installations."
Many thanks to Christian Butler, AnnaMarie Fidel-Rice, Gretchen Marie Schaefer and Pattie Lee Becker for their assistance in realizing this project.

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